Books and Documents

Islamic History (25 Mar 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Causes For The Rise And Fall Of The Muslims


By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

Muhammad (pbuh), was born in the year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern Arabia which was at that time backward and not a centre of art, architecture, science, learning, affluence or influence. His noble character had earned him the title of Al Amin or the trustworthy and except for this and a few stories of his wisdom and qualities of leadership in maintaining peace between the tribes, he had an uneventful life. There was little indication of the remarkable transformation that he was destined to bring about in his last 23 years. He was in the habit of retiring to a cave on a mountain to meditate and while he was thus meditating the first of the revelations came to him through the archangel Gabriel in 610. For the first three years, he preached within his family and to close friends and later he began to preach openly. At first, his preaching did not attract adverse attention, but soon the Meccan’s realized the full import of his revolutionary message and they began to persecute and torture his followers and after the death of his influential wife Khadija (RA) and his powerful Uncle Abu Talib in 622, Muhammad migrated to Medina or Yathrib, a city some 200 miles north of Mecca. In Medina he was welcomed by the people and he soon gained many converts and soon rose to a position of considerable political power and became virtually a ruler. He consolidated his political power through treaties and military victories. The Meccans fought a series of battles to defeat the Muslims but although they enjoyed considerable numerical superiority and were better equipped with arms and cavalry, they were defeated each time. In 630 Muhammad (pbuh) made an unopposed and triumphant return to Mecca as conqueror. The remaining two and one-half years of his life witnessed the rapid conversion of the Arab tribes to the new religion.

When Muhammad died, in 632, he was the undisputed ruler of all of southern Arabia. Islam united the Bedouin tribesmen who were earlier divided and weakened by internecine warfare. The Quran refers to this phenomenon as follows:

3:103. And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.

Thus when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) began preaching the word of Islam, Durant notes, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes; when he died, it was a nation. The Bedouin tribesmen fought wars under the leadership of Muhammad (PBUH) for the survival of Islam against heavy numerical odds and won decisively which made them feel invincible as long as they were fighting in the way of Allah or for God’s cause. They were still a very small army when they embarked upon one of the most astonishing series of conquests in human history. To the northeast of Arabia they conquered the Persian Empire of the Sassanid by crushing the Persian armies in the battles of Qadisiyah in 637 and Nehavend in 642.  Numerically, the Arabs were no match for their opponents and were often outnumbered 1:6. On the field of battle, though, the inspired Arabs rapidly conquered all of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. By 642, Egypt was taken from the Byzantine Empire. By 711, the Arab armies had swept completely across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. There they turned north and, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain.

 “Muslim expansion into Spain was Islam’s most dramatic move westward. The speed of the victory reflected the ill will of the native Spanish for their Visigoth rulers. Spanish Jews who had been continuously persecuted and subjected to forced Christian conversions by the previous regime also welcomed the Arabs. Then from their new forward base in Spain, Muslim horsemen raided north across the Pyrenees into modern France. The Arabs captured Narbonne and Toulouse in 718 CE, but their excursions were stopped by the Frankish General Martel at the battle of Poitiers (732 CE). Muslim historians maintain that the dark ages of Europe date from the Muslim defeat: lost centuries that would have been avoided had the light of Islam been permitted to shine”.  Paul Grieves book – Islam (History, Faith and Politics: the complete introduction)

In just about eighty years, these Arabs, had conquered many lands and built an empire starting from the borders of India and Afghanistan in the east to the Atlantic Ocean. It was larger than the Roman Empire at its peak which had taken the Romans a thousand years to build.

“The character of this new Muslim Empire was entirely different from what had gone before. There was no wholesale plunder of the conquered lands by the new rulers. Instead, the Arab armies were contained in disciplined garrison towns, Fustat in Egypt, for example, or Kufah in Iraq. Religious persecution of minorities by the Greek Orthodox Church came to an immediate end and tolerance was declared following the injunctions of the Quran. Muslims had no preference between the intricate factions that had formed among both Christians and Jews, ironically respecting both as `people of the Book’, despite their military defeat. The occupied non-Muslims were, however, required to pay the Jiziyah, a tax levied on income in return for protection. But the levy was generally less than the previous fiscal impositions of the departing Persians and Byzantines, and non-Muslims were exempted from paying Zakat. Islam was not forced upon the population, rather the early conversions were as a result of the personal and community examples set by the Muslims and the ease with which this powerful new religion could be understood. Even converts, however, were not exempted from the protection tax which was needed to fund the operation of the new empire.” Robert Grieve

“In art and architecture, in philosophy, in medicine, science and literature, in government, the original Arabians had nothing to teach and everything to learn … these Muslim Arabians in collaboration with and by the help of their subject peoples began to assimilate (and) adapt …” (Hitti, Philip K. History of the Arabs).

The Arabs were quick learners. They displayed an attitude of respect towards the conquered for their learning and achievements. The conquered found the new system of control under the Arabs fairer than the oppression they had been living under. The Arabs built upon what they learnt. The Belgian-born American historian of science George Sarton (1884-1956) who founded the history of science in America, in "The Incubation of Western Culture in the Middle East: a George C. Keiser Foundation Lecture", March 29, 1950, Washington DCSarton says “The achievements of the Arabic speaking peoples between the ninth and the twelfth centuries are so great as to baffle our understanding”

In the first half of the tenth century, the Muslims were at the peak of their achievements.

“The main task of mankind was accomplished by Muslims. The greatest philosopher, Al Farabi was a Muslim; the greatest mathematicians, Abu Kamil and Ibrahim Ibn Sinan were Muslims; the greatest geographer and encyclopaedist, Al_masudi was a Muslim; the great historian, Al-Tabari was still a Muslim.

The other notables of the period were Al-Ashari, Al Hamdani, Abu Dulaf, Abu Al-Faraj Al-Isfahani, Ibn Duraid, Ibn Rusta, ibn Al-Faqih, Abu Zaid, Abu Bakr Al-Razi, Al-Balkhi, Al-Jaihani, Al_farabi, Ibn-Amajur and many others.

Thus was Muslim culture highest of those days stretching from Central Asia to the Western end of the world” (Sarton)

“The rapid and almost miraculous development of the human mind was the inevitable consequence of a policy based on those principles whose application had promoted the wonderful progress of every nation ruled by the enlightened successors of Muhammad.” (Scott)

Let us examine what “those principles whose application had promoted the wonderful progress of every nation ruled by the enlightened successors of Muhammad” were.

Human Rights in Islam

1.       Slavery is not categorically prohibited by the Quran, for seventh century economic, moral and humanitarian reasons, but slavery is judged to be against God’s will and freeing a slave is extolled as a charity and a virtue. Without prisons and slavery, war prisoners would have been put to death. Slavery was therefore a necessity. A slave was however treated as a member of the family. Ill treatment by slapping for example required the slave to be freed in expiation of the ‘sin’. They had the right to `earn’ or `buy out’ their freedom. There was therefore, great incentive for them to give off their best and not merely be a provider of cheap muscle power. Slaves also rose to occupy important administrative positions and they also became rulers. 

2.       The right to life and property was made sacrosanct. This right is recognized as a very important right which incentivizes man to develop his land and create wealth for self and posterity. It encourages entrepreneurship. The positive difference that this right has made under the ‘capitalist’ system and the negative influence from a lack of these rights in communist systems is well known.

3.       The right to take part in government was instituted by the Shura. The Shura or the advisory council consisted of tribal leaders who were true representatives of their people in every sense of the term. Representative democracy was thus the form of government until the fourth Caliph after which it became dynastic.

4.       The right to freedom of religion and conscience is specifically set out in the Quran:

Let there be no compulsion in religion, Truth stands out clear from error 2:256

Muslims were freed from the tyranny of priests and enjoy individual liberty in the matter of their religion. “The Quran is God's legacy to man, unreservedly available to all. For a Muslim therefore, the central act of devotion is not to be found in following any supervised rite or sacrament, but by reading and contemplating God's direct word to man, set out in a book which he can open, read and interpret for himself” (Robert Grieve).

5.       The concept of fundamental human equality is repeated many times in both the Quran and the Sunna, specifically summarized one again in the Prophet’s farewell address. ‘No Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, neither does a man of brown colour enjoy superiority over a man of black colour, nor does a black man enjoy superiority over a man of white colour except by piety.’

‘Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is most righteous of you’ 49:13

6.       In law, non-Muslims had equal rights and there is a famous case in which Hazrat Ali (RA) who was the Caliph at the time, lost a case to a Jew in an Islamic court. The allegation against the Jew was that he had stolen Ali’s shield and since the Jew had possession of the shield, possession was taken as 50% proof of ownership and Ali’s word against the Jew’s word was given equal importance. The Jew therefore had 50% proof of ownership and Hazrat Ali just had his word and that of his son against the Jew. The son was not treated as an independent witness and his word therefore did not count.

7.       Islam was the first to give women rights as an individual to own and inherit property and to give testimony, right to choose husband, right to divorce, right to remarry, right to support by members of her family.

8.       Killing by burning is banned in Islam. In medieval Europe killing by burning as part of their `judicial process’ was common till the eighteenth century. Killing by torture including emasculation was also common for male prisoners in Europe.

9.       The government’s rights to raise revenue (zakat and Jizya) and manner of spending is prescribed in the Quran. The Hadiths are very specific in forbidding high taxes.  According to M Asad, “in the Islamic Empire there was no privileged nation, nor a centre of power enriching itself at the cost of acquired territories. All this forces upon us the conclusion that the inner strength and social soundness of the Islamic world were superior to anything mankind had hitherto experienced by way of social organization. “There was therefore every incentive for the people to work for improving their own environment. The revenues from the people belonging to one administrative block were spent on the people from the same block.

10.     Rudimentary social security was introduced by Umar bin Khattab (RA). He supported the old including non-Muslims by granting pension from the state treasury.

The advance made by the Quran in creating personal rights under the conditions of the seventh century can be readily appreciated, coming a thousand years before similar measures were even considered in Europe. The thread that runs through all the 10 major points is freedom – of which each is an aspect or facet. These freedoms were a great improvement in the life of the people (the conquerors as well as the conquered) releasing enormous creative energies that were responsible for “the achievements so great that baffle our understanding.” The integrated society comprising the conquerors and the conquered was in perfect equilibrium being more prosperous, more advanced in every respect and enjoying greater freedoms than any other people in other parts of the world.

Islam took the Arabs and the Islamic world to pre-eminence in science, scholarship, medicine, universal education through its system of madrasas, law and jurisprudence and in wealth creation due to trade which was helped in no small measure by the fact that the caravans of trade could travel in utmost safety throughout the length of the vast empire. This gain in pre-eminence went on during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. What the Arabs had done was far more than to revive ancient Greek science. They had created an entirely new scientific world of their own and developed hitherto unknown avenues of research and philosophy.

Comparison with Modern Western Civilization

Compare the above with what Niall Fergusson has to say in his book ‘Civilization’. Ferguson’s attributes the ascendancy of the West to "six killer applications":

1.       Competition in politics and economics among Europe's countries;

2.       The Scientific temper;

3.       Protection of private property through the rule of law enforced by a representative government;

4.       Modern Medicine or improvements in health and life expectancy;

5.       Consumerism or a culture that encouraged consumption;

6.       Work ethic

. If the western civilization has made unprecedented progress in the last 400 years, it is based on reason applied to Islam. If Islam benefited by doing away with the priestly class, the western countries went a step further and distanced the church from all affairs of the state. If Muslim society was ahead on account of its enlightened human rights, the west took these measures a step further. They banned slavery, became secular giving unfettered rights to follow any religion, the women have made steady progress in winning more and more rights and are now almost at par with men, capitalism grants rights of property and to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour. Greater individual freedom was the hallmark of Islam’s revolutionary charter of human Rights in the seventh century and the West has benefited by taking these further.

Reasons For The Fall

The major reason for the fall was that democracy did not last beyond the fourth Caliph and the Caliphate became a dynasty from the fifth Caliph. This did not pose a serious problem as long as the Caliphate was in good hands. In dynasties however, one bad ruler can in the space of a generation or over two decades, undo the good work of several centuries. This invariably proves to be the undoing of all dynasties. Prodigal luxury and boundless wealth soon corrupt those with absolute power. The competition that is inherent in a democracy is absent in dynastic rules. Lack of democracy and a few bad rulers, weakened the empire and form the 13th century onwards it was subject to the most savage attacks against which the weakened rulers found themselves helpless. 

From 1220 onwards, the eastern parts of the Muslim Empire were ravaged by the Mongols. The devastation caused by them was enormous with millions slaughtered and infrastructure destroyed. Then the Muslims lost important centers such as: Cordova 1236, Valencia 1238, Seville 1249, and the rest of Spain. Without the basic physical security which the political leadership was now unable to provide, all other freedoms become meaningless.

The world of Islam lapsed into a stupor.  Nations like Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Jordan were doing reasonably well until the 1980s but have been destroyed by war and other political problems. Their downfall can be seen to be a result of regressing from their revolutionary charter for individual freedoms and can only be arrested and reversed by once again treading a path of greater freedoms for the individual including women. It is a society which is in disequilibrium today as the freedoms in Islamic countries are far lesser than the freedoms enjoyed by people in other countries. This state of disequilibrium has created conditions of very great internal strife. The position very clearly is the opposite of what took Islamic society to its zenith in the 10th century and kept them ahead upto the beginning of the 13th century. The Muslim society will have to find ways by which women can become as independent as Hazrat Khadija (RA) without turning into a licentious and adulterous society. Their education system needs to be revamped and modernized without the anti religious slant in western education which takes the educated away from religion. The Muslim intelligentsia needs to step forward and lead the masses and not be satisfied with living comfortable lives in the western world leaving the responsibility for leadership in the hands of the bigoted Mullahs and Muftis. The religious scholar enjoys no formal position of power in Islam. It is time the leadership was claimed by the enlightened intelligentsia.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-history/naseer-ahmed,-new-age-islam/causes-for-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-muslims/d/10880



  • Read my following articles to get the flow of the Prophet's mission in chronological order:

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/5/2017 2:33:01 AM

  • I do not know where you are getting Islamic history lessons from. Kindly read Koran in chronological order and Sira. In case u want a copy mail me at motorint (at) gmail (dot) com.
    By Raman - 6/5/2017 12:54:18 AM

  • I wonder why its only the Muslim countries that are so economically backward. The only reason why the middle east countries are rich is bcuz of their oil supply. Once that runs out I bet no one would give a shit about their countries! You say islam preaches freedom of religion? Then I wonder why that false prophet of yours considers christians and jews as enemies! You bloody hypocrites!  Islam will fall eventually! You are the cursed lot! 
    By secondcomming - 2/25/2014 8:08:49 AM

  • Mr Ahmed, I have not said they did not have any virtues. I am saying they did not have the virtues you are attributing to them. Other virtues can as successfully lead to 'rise', which you have yet not told me how you are defining. So I am assuming you mean political, economic, religious, cultural and intellectual domination.
    I am saying they did not have the virtues of tolerance and sensitivity towards other faiths and cultures, as you have claimed. Those were not virtues that led to their rise.
    The virtues they had were unity, strong motivation and military might. And Courage. A lot of which came from religion. And when the motive shifted from mere loot to administration of conquered lands as a means to earn steady income and continue dominance, they calibrated their violence and co-opted people of other faiths into their administrative and political machinery. So shrewdness and practicality were two more virtues.
    By secular logic - 4/8/2013 8:42:06 PM

  • Islamist revivalism and Hindutva revivalism have both worked havocs, so let us not talk of past glories. Let us look at all religions as works in progress, as agencies to make us better persons, to make our families more stable and nurturing families and to make our societies more harmonious and inclusive societies.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/8/2013 11:40:24 AM

  • SL, If you have read all three articles:
    1. Civilizing influence of religion
    2. Cause for the rise and fall of the Muslims
    3. There is no rational basis for atheists to oppose religion
    You will see that in the last article I have said that every great religion pitchforked its people at least a 1000 year ahead of the rest of the people and if you go through the comments, you will find me discussing other civilizations.
    Yes, not only do I agree that every civilization has risen and fallen, but I have mentioned the same in my articles,  and this article is confined to the causes for the rise and fall of the Muslims.
    Now if you think that each of the civilizations - Indian, Chinese, Greek etc rose without having any positive virtues, then what is the point in having history as a subject at all?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/8/2013 3:36:33 AM

  • Nazigar is speaking about what they built, not what they destroyed first.
    I have given you a link to Zoroastrian History, where there is an account of wholesale burning and destruction of the libraries and institutions of the Zoroastrians. A similar tale of destruction can be found in India.
    If they later built their own colleges and libraries, it is great, but that does not diminish their sins in destroying other cultures
    By secular logic - 4/8/2013 1:46:59 AM

  • Pickthall: this could have been a localised experience, of the invader being a better option than current administration. Like the British were certainly preferable to Aurangzeb for Indians (non-Muslim Indians, that is) Does not make the British paragons of virtue.
    Also, the experiences of the middle eastern countries may not have been the same as the experiences of India. In India, a reasonably good, tolerant king could have been replaced by some conversion-mongering Arab, so the worldviews that the two populations developed wrt Islam could have been different.
    By secular logic - 4/8/2013 1:43:37 AM

  • Leonald Gyld is making the same observation that I have made. That islam was a powerful unfifying force and motivator;
    Washington is only talking about Prophet Muhammad's behavior after his conquests. He is not speaking about the Arab race and the entire arabic conquests across the world
    Alfonse, again, is only talking about Mohammad the Man. He is not talking about the nature of Arabic conquests of the world.
    Mongegomery: As above.
    Bosworth: As above, with some added observations about the Quran, which are subject to debate. "Scriptures" refers only to the faiths known to Mohammad. The Quran ignores the other scriptures around the world, and leaves their validity open to individual interpretations by Muslims, which are most often not positive on inclusion.
    By secular logic - 4/8/2013 1:37:07 AM

  • Mr Ahmed, I shall read your long historical account at leisure, but right now I will only address the first couple of paras.
    First, you must define what "rise" means. I think our problems are starting there. Political might? Economic might? Cultural dominance? Religious dominance? Intelliectual dominance, or a combination of all or many of these?
    History of conquest is usually bloody and unjust to some party. None of the conquests of Human history have ever been universally lauded by all parties concerned. To claim that the Arabic wave was different and had incorporated into its military conquest every virtue under the sun is to misguide people. They did win because of the factors I have listed, and Religion was a powerful motivator. That is why your call to "return to the golden age of the Arabs" makes my heart sink.
    As for rise and fall, what durability are you talking about? Everything that rises falls at some time, everything that falls (hopefully) rises at some time. The factors in each rise and fall are too specific and individual to generalise with a broad brush like you have done. It is the natural order of things. India - as in Hindustan - once was a major economic power in the world, today it is a third world country; Rome was an absolute conquerer, today it is on the brink of collapse; Spain invaded and conquered half of America, today its people are staring at a banking collapse. Britan, in fact, fell as an economic power when it moved towards equality of the races, and devolution of political power to its subjects. It is a poor country today, but intellectually and culturally still very rich.
    As for Arabs. Well, I won't go there, you are the expert.
    One should not long for what has passed. One should long for a future that corrects the mistakes of the past.
    By secular logic - 4/8/2013 1:28:13 AM

  • GM Sb, You have your individual requirement and view point.
    You are not unaware of what Syed Qutub's return to basics means and the following that he has for his ideas and today's political Islam is nothing but Syed Qutub's ideas being implemented. How do you counter these ideas except through a discussion of the past and pointing out that past glory and the present glory of the Western Civilization is not based on what Qutubism represents but something else altogether?
    Your unstated concern I understand is about Jehad when we discuss the past. Wait for the next article which will effectively counteract the ideas of Syed Qutub on this subject.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/8/2013 12:38:16 AM

  • The last sentence in my last post got lost. It was:
    "Summoning past glories may bring back with it baggage that we do not necessarily want."
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/8/2013 12:14:20 AM

  • Naseer Sb, it is true that Islam dramatically  transformed the Arabs and they made great strides in philosophy, science and military matters. I support your call for increased emphasis on education, social reforms and a more liberal and progressive leadership. I do not however see any benefits in calling  that either "recapturing past glory" or "going back to the basics". What you describe are rational goals that we ourselves have thought through and that we on our own consider to be very worthwhile.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/8/2013 12:11:08 AM

  • SL does not see a single virtue but only vices. He is propagating a dangerous doctrine that to succeed in building the greatest empire the world had known till then, and show the highest durability having lasted 13 centuries until the Ottomans were finally defeated in 1910, and achieving greatness in every field of human activity, all that you need are vices! I suppose this is what he would like the Muslims to believe so that they never see the light that is being shown to them in the article.
    If SL has any inkling of history he would know that evil has not shown durability. The Mongols were perhaps greater as conquerors but their territorial gains were short lived and they did not leave any lasting legacy. Once they got transformed by the vanquished Muslims and became Muslims, their conquests were more durable and their influence more lasting and their rule more benign.
    He completely ignores what the historians have said and says that I quote selectively meaning that I do not quote the Islamophobes. But I quote the western historians and not Muslims. If he can show that these western historians are biased, he is free to discredit them:
     Arthur Glyn Leonard in 'Islam, Her Moral and Spiritual Values'
    “It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad's deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration.”
    Washington Irving in 'Life of Muhammad,' New York, 1920.
    “His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory as they would have done had they been effected by selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manner and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial of respect was shown to him.”
    Alphonse de Lamartine in 'Histoire de la Turquie', Pans 1854, vol. 11, pp. 276-77.
    "Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had, in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design, no other instrument than himself and no other aid except a handful of men living in a corner of the desert. Finally, never has a man accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and in arms, reigned over the whole of Arabia, and conquered, in God's name, Persia Khorasan, Transoxania, Western India, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and part of Gaul.
    "If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.”
    "Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs.... The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?"
    W. Montgomery Watt writes in Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford, 1953, p 52
    “His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.”
    Bosworth Smith writes in Mohammad and Mohammadanism, London 1874, p 92.
    “He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life."
    "In Mohammadanism everything is different here. Instead of the shadowy and the mysterious, we have history....We know of the external history of Muhammad....while for his internal history after his mission had been proclaimed, we have a book absolutely unique in its origin, in its preservation....on the Substantial authority of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt."
    The Qur'an repeatedly claims to be the confirmation of the truth of all religions. The former Scriptures had become obscure, the former Prophets appeared mythical, so extravagant were the legends which were told concerning them, so that people doubted whether there was any truth in the old Scriptures, whether such people as the Prophets had ever really existed.
    In the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Before the coming of Islam, tolerance had never been preached as an essential part of religion.
    Marmaduke Pickthall
    Eastern Christians preferred Muslim rule, which allowed them to practice their own form of religion and adhere to their peculiar dogmas, to the rule of fellow Christians who would have made them Roman Catholics or wiped them out. (Edward Gibbon)
    ….only one possible explanation remains for the Arab success-and that was the spirit of Islam... The generous terms that the invading armies usually offered made their faith accessible to the conquered populations. And if it was a new and upstart faith, its administration by simple and honest men was preferable to the corruption and persecution that were the norm in more civilized empires...
    ….the real victor in the conquests was not the Arab warlords, but Islam itself... Simply put, Islam may have sped the conquests, but it also showed much greater staying power. It is useful to realize that the power of Islam was separate from much and more permanent than that of the armies with which it rode.
    George F. Nafziger, Mark W. Walton, Islam at War: A History, 2003
    "Yet there were knowledge and learning everywhere. At a time when even kings could not read or write, a Moorish king had a private library of six hundred thousand books. At a time when ninety-nine percent of the Christian people were wholly illiterate, the Moorish city of Cordova had eight hundred public schools, and there was not a village within the limits of the empire where the blessings of education could not be enjoyed by the children of the most indigent peasant, ...and it was difficult to encounter even a Moorish peasant who could not read" ----S.P. Scott in 'The History of the Moorish Empire in Europe.'
    In Spain under the Umayyads and in Baghdad under the Abbasid Khalifas, Christians and Jews, equally with Muslims, were admitted to the Schools and universities - not only that, but were boarded and lodged in hostels at the cost of the state. When the Moors were driven out of Spain, the Christian conquerors held a terrific persecution of the Jews. Those who were fortunate enough to escape fled, some of them to Morocco and many hundreds to the Turkish empire, where their descendants still live in separate communities, and still speak among themselves an antiquated form of Spanish. The Muslim empire was a refuge for all those who fled from persecution by the Inquisition. (Robert Grieve)
    Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay write in History of the Saracen Empire, London 1870, p 54.
    “It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder; the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Madina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran...The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. I believe in One God and Mahomet is the Apostle of God' is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue; and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/8/2013 12:10:47 AM

  • GM Sb, Your comment is probably related to what is said in the comments by various persons.
    If you read through the three closely related articles, the subject is about how religion has pitch forked  different civilizations far ahead of every other civilization at different points in time. The Indian, Chinese and the Greek had their periods of ascendancy.
    This particular article is about how Islam dramatically  transformed the Arabs and identifies the key principles that changed their lives. It also shows that the Western Civilization also benefited by adopting the very same principles and taking these a step further although they drifted away from religion.
    The article celebrates the principles and the role of major religions in transforming the lives of people it touched. If they happened to be Indian, Chinese, Greek or Arab at different points in time, it is only incidental.
    This particular article is of particular interest to Muslims. There are sections of society who talk about going back to the basics to once again become a flourishing and successful community and recapture past glory. What that going back to the basics should mean is brought out in the article.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/7/2013 11:33:16 PM

Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.