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CULTURE OF ISLAM

119 Muslims Response Period of the Muslim Empires


Imtiaz Muhsin 05-Apr-13

The main objective of these talks (and therefore the scripts of these talks), is to stimulate thinking. Sensible, rational and logical thinking. So, my message, think, think & think! Be sensible, be rational and be logical.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

Please Note
1. I have had the great privilege, (since Aug 2010), of presenting talks on the weekly Radio Program Culture of Islam [Friday 5.30 to 6.00 am, Radio Sri Lanka - FM 97.4] 2. Since these are Radio Talks, I refer to, or address the audience as listeners 3. I am well aware that the audience to these talks would consist of people belonging to a variety of faiths. So as to make people of all faiths feel included, I very often use words and names that are common to all religions. 4. For these reasons, I use the name GOD, as well as Abraham, Moses, Jesus etc as well as the names Allah, Ibrahim (Alaihis Salaam), Moosa (Alaihis Salaam), Easa (Alaihis Salaam) etc 5. Muslims by habit usually say Sallallahu Alaihiwasallam, when the name of Prophet Muhammad is mentioned, and Alaihis Salaam' when the name of a Prophet is mentioned. However, in these series of talks I have reduced the use of these prayers & sayings to the bare minimum. 6. Muslims, also by habit, use a number of Arabic prayers or sayings, such as Alhamdulillah, Insha Allah and so on. Again, I have reduced the use of these prayers or sayings to the bare minimum. 7. Sometimes I have to write Arabic words in the English script. I have devised my own way of writing Arabic in English, as follows;

th TH

s Ss SW

DHL DHZ

H h

Gh GH

Information on these talks along with all download links can be found on my on my Blog (http://imtiazm.wordpress.com/) The dates or the schedules of these talks can be viewed on the Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/ImtiazMuhsin786) The Scripts of these talks can be downloaded from www.ScribD.com (http://www.scribd.com/imtiaz_muhsin_1) (www.ScribD.com Author Imtiaz Muhsin) The audio files of these talks can be downloaded from YouTube (YouTube Channel Imtiaz Muhsin) The YouTube Link to this talk is at

All Praise and Thanks is due to Allah and Allah alone Alhamdulillah! P.S. The Picture on the Cover is that of the Mohideen Jummah Mosque, Mayura Place, Colombo.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

119 Muslim Responses Period of the Muslim Empires


Dear Friends, Assalamu Alaikum, The last few talks have been a series on a rather interesting subject. The main objective is to find out whether it is possible that the teachings and practices of Islam could have changed over its history of 1400 years. Now all you listeners would agree that this would be quite a formidable study. It is! Anyway, let me describe how I am attempting to learn. My first step is to study the history of the Muslim World, from the time of the Prophet to the present. My second step is to break these 1400 years in to clear, obvious, distinguishable periods. I have identified 7 such periods, as follows; 1. The Meccan Period from the time of Nubuwwath of the Prophet to the Hijra to Medina Period 13 Years 610 to 622 AD 2. The Medina Period From Hijrath to the death of the Holy Prophet Period 10 years 622 to 632 AD 3. The Period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs or the Khulafaa Ur Raashidheen Period 30 years 632 to 661 AD 4. The Period of the Muslim Empires Over history there have been many Empires The first being the Ummayyad Empire that began in 661 and the final to fall being the Ottoman Empire in 1926 this period thus covers almost 1265 years. 5. Sandwiched in to the period of the Muslim empires we have 2 other important periods; The age of the Crusades, actually there have been clearly identifiable 4 waves of Crusades, dating from 1095 to 1187 this period covers around 92 years. 6. The next sandwiched period is the period of European Colonization of Muslim Lands. This period begins around 1500 and ends around 1963 around 460 years 7. Finally we have the period of Islamic States and Muslims living as minorities in other states. This is the period we now live in. Then my third step. That would be to list out the changes that took place during each of those periods and then try to work out the causes to those changes or events. That is pretty straightforward and can be read off any book on the History of Muslim Empires. But then comes the interesting point, which is actually the fourth step. Try to find out what was the reaction or the response of the Muslim population to each of these events, with regard to the teachings and practices of the religion itself. To the religion of Islam itself! Two weeks ago my talk covered the period of the 4 rightly guided Caliphs and last week I covered the initial period of the Ummayyad Empire. Actually a huge amount of time has to be devoted to these two periods because it is in these two periods that the trend is set, the trend for the rule of the Empires. This is the period I am hoping to cover in todays talk.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

Let me list out some of the main changes that I have spoken on thus far. After the death of the Prophet; 1. Muslims had to adjust to being led by someone other than a Prophet 2. The small Muslim society that had been established under the leadership of the Prophet in Madinah and Mecca had grown in to a vast empire geographically covering areas that are now recognized as a number of countries. 3. Huge populations were embracing Islam and large numbers of them were non Arab speaking, so they had to be taught not only the teachings of the Quran but also the Arabic language. 4. During the time of the Prophet Islam was more or less a religion of self rectification. Each Muslim strived to become better and better. From being Muslim he strived to become a Mumin a MuttaQi, a Muhsin a Mukhlis and so on. But then from the time of the Khulafa Ur Raashidheen and the initiation of the Muslim Empires focus was gradually shifting to Islam being a social religion, or even a political ideology. Debates on how the Prophet would have dealt with each matter concerning the society or of state was the order of the day. 5. Along with the study of the interpretation of the Quran another source known as the Hadith was evolving. Those eminent personages who had been the companions of the Prophet explained how the Prophet gave instructions for any situation. So people began to study these narrations along with the study of the Quran. 6. The Ummayyads had to justify their rule they had to have acceptance from people, so in spite of political maneuvering and treachery they justified their actions with not just the Quran but also through the traditions of the Prophet. 7. As the Sahabas were dying off one by one, it became obvious that a number new Hadith was now being concocted. People thus began to believe certain narrators and distrust others. This was based on personal opinion. This grew to a situation that people believed certain narrators even if the content of the so called Hadith did not make sense. 8. Different camps of Muslims had arisen. They all agreed on one Quran. However they disagreed on Political Islam and the many Hadith that was now flowing freely. Now let us work out the reactions or the responses of those Muslims to the changes of those times. We are in the initial period of the Umayyads. Hussain (RA) and his family had been horribly massacred at Karbala. There were Shia uprising in Kufah and Kharijite uprisings in what is modern day Iran and Iraq. By 691 the Ummayyads had defeated both the Shia as well as the Kharijite uprisings and had also completed the building of the Dome of the Rock, neighboring the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Ummayyads were giving justification to their rule and their laws to the Quran and the Hadith. People were challenging their interpretation of the Quran and also challenging the authenticity of their hadith. Gradually the people began to be selective in accepting the interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith that was being presented as evidence. Gradually people began to trust those who sincerely strived to study the true essence of Islam. There have been many such personalities. It was around 732 that Imam Abu Haniffa pioneered the study of Fiqh. Gradually others followed.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

The works of 4 scholars on Fiqh found acceptance with the Sunni Muslim World. Their works were known as the Madhzhabs or Schools of Thought on Islamic Jurisprudence The Abbasid Empire began its rule from Baghdad around 750 AD about 120 years after the death of the Prophet. The Abbasid Caliphs encouraged the establishment of the 4 Madhzhabs. The fact that there are 4 Madhzhabs itself should convince everyone that the basis of the formation of Islamic Jurisprudence itself is based on opinions. So each ruling in each Madhzhab is the opinion of its founder. Well now the teachings and practices of Islam took another dramatic turn. Let me explain; 1. During the time of the Prophet Islam was a religion or a way of realizing the truth and making efforts on self reformation. 2. After the death of the Prophet Islam gradually took on the theme of being a social religion, a sort of a collection of a code of social conduct, rituals and symbols. 3. Then we had the proliferation of Hadith or the traditions of the Prophet. This was used by the rulers to justify their actions. 4. The result of these many Hadith is that people began compiling lists of narrators that could be trusted and those that could not be trusted. But then the hadith itself was an opinion of the narrator and the acceptance of that hadith was the opinion of the person accepting that Hadith. So Islam was not only growing to be a political ideology it was also become a teaching of Quran and traditions based on opinion, and opinions of that opinion, and opinions of the opinions of that opinion and so on. 5. We are now in the stage where some eminent personalities had collected a number of traditions which in their opinion could be trusted and had drawn up a comprehensive code of jurisprudence. This was their opinion. Muslims were obviously getting confused. Many chose the easy way. That way was; We need not think when the thinking has been done for us We have readymade instructions for any situation we should face in life Is this a good thing? Is this attitude, or easy way out, a good development? The teachings and the practice of Islam had undergone huge transformations. You could call it a metamorphosis. At the time of the Prophet people strived for self rectification under the light and guidance of the Quran. By the time of the early Abbasid Empire, maybe around 150 years after the death of the Prophet, Muslims were just following laws of the Empire and regulations known as Islamic Jurisprudence, being the opinion of eminent scholars and based on opinions of others, which was again based on opinions of the opinions of others and so on. The Abbasid era gradually began to be recognized as an era of knowledge.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

Many scholars today describe the eras of the 4 Khulafaa Ur Raashidheen and the Ummayyads as a period of Dhawah because the Islamic Empire grew not just in geographical vastness but also in whole populations embracing Islam. The Abbasid era however took on another flavor or another identity it is described as the era of ilm or knowledge. The 4 Madhzhabs emerged during the initial phases of the Abbasid Rule. Now the Sunni Muslims could understand and apply Islamic law or Islamic Shariath with rules, laid down as a Madhzhab. As I mentioned again and again these were the opinions of those eminent scholars. However 100s of thousands of Hadith or traditions of the Prophet was still floating around. Many of them were labeled untrustworthy or concocted and different people had different opinions as to what traditions should be trusted or not. So now we see the emergence of another lot of eminent personalities that took on the task of authenticating or rejecting hadith. They evolved a science for this methodology. Hadith was now mainly categorized as Sahih, Hassan or Dhaeef. The most famous of these personalities who compiled the Sahih Hadith was Imam Bukhari who over many years travelled from Bukhara in Central Asia to Madinah, in search of and recording Hadith. His journey overland, taking him through Khorasan, Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo and Madinah. It is recorded that he had collected over 600,000 Hadith and had rejected all but 7,275. Similarly Ahmed ibn Hanbal collected 700,000 Hadith and had rejected all but 40,000. Remember what is selected and categorized as Sahih and those that have been rejected are all the opinions of those respective Imams. Now Muslims had narrowed down their fields of striving. There was the Quran which we all have to turn to for instruction, teaching, guidance and enlightenment. But then we look for more explanation to the Hadith. So then, what is the result? We now look on Islam more as a combination of (i) a social code of conduct, (ii) a collection of rituals and symbols, (iii) codified sets of schools of thought or better termed as Islamic Jurisprudence, (iv) we look on Islam as a political ideology and (v) we think that if shariath law is in force then the country we live in would be a Muslim state and (vi) thus we have fulfilled our mission as Muslims. Our learnings are all based on opinions of others which in turn are based on opinions of still others of earlier generations, which are in turn based on opinions of still others of earlier generations, which in turn are based on opinions of still others of earlier generations, and so on and so on.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

What are we doing? Where are we heading? Whom are we trying to fool? Could you not call this reverse evolution? This Man, this Muslim is step by step morphing into a lowly (metaphorical) Reptile! Is this not so? Vast strides were made in the fields of knowledge during the Abbasid period. I just explained about the setting up of the 4 Madhzhabs and the compilation of the different sets of Sahih Hadith. The Muslims learnt from the people they ruled over and the books that they kept. Caliph Mamun built an institution for research which he called the Baithul Hikma or the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. Muslims, Christians and Jews worked together translating books, many of them centuries old, from Ancient Greece. The Arabs also searched for books from as far as India and Africa. Many of the Greek books would have been lost if the Muslims had not translated them in to Arabic. The Abbasid Rulers encouraged the study of Medicine, Optics, Astronomy, Geography, Travel and Trade and Mathematics. They even set up trade connections in different cities all over the World so that traders could travel safely with their goods from city to city. Travelers and traders from all over the World were now making their way to the main cities of the Abbasid Empire, amazed at its civilization, way of life, security and prosperity. The famous stories of the Orient such as Aladdin and his Magic Lamp Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Sinbad the Sailor and Arabian Nights, all were written in this period reflecting the magic of this era under the Abbasids. The Abbasids rule which began in 750 AD ended in 1258 with the attack by the Mongols. The Abbasid Empire lasted around 500 years. Regarding the growth of religious knowledge it is enlightening to read what Imam Ghazzali had to write in his introduction to his epic titled Ihya Ulum Ud Din. This was probably around 1000 AD Imam Ghazzali, had this to say: If any Muslim student were to be asked about the virtues and vices of the qualities like patience and thankfulness, fear and awe, envy and malice, hypocrisy and deception, contentment and sincerity or how to avoid hankering after the praise and respect of others, he would not be able to give any answer, although he ought to know these as the preparation for life in the world-to-come depends on them. However if you were to ask him about lian, zihar, sabaq or rami, he will give out a detailed description of each, although one seldom comes across these issues, and, if anybody does need a juristic opinion on these matters, he can easily obtain it in every town. These scholars thus devote their entire time and energy in learning and teaching the details of similar insignificant issues but remain oblivious of the knowledge essential for a religious teacher. This he said around 1000 years ago.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

Does this not give a clear indication of the how the learnings, teachings and practices of Islam had changed? Though we say that the Abbasid Empire lasted from 750 to 1258 AD, the fact is that the Empire was too large to administer. Over time different parts of the Kingdom the local rulers gradually increased their hold on power and the Caliphs merely retained symbolic authority. Many of these local rulers established their own dynasties. Describing each of these dynasties would be take too much time and would also be boring, however let me just read to you a few of them. We have the Sammanids, a Sunni Iranian Dynasty. We have the Spanish Muslim Kingdom of Al Andalus till 1492. Listeners may also have heard about the Hamanids, the Buyids, Ikshids, The Shia Fatimids, the Ghaznavids and the Seljuk Empire. All these dynasties and empires or sub empires were outgrowths from parts of the Abbasid Empire. As listeners would now realize research on this subject is very heavy, but also illuminating at the same time. It is through doing research on the History of the Muslim Empires that we learn about many events or the many trials and tribulations that Muslims have faced over the centuries. Whilst studying this subject we also begin to realize how changes to the practices and teachings of Islam have crept in to mainstream Islam and then we begin to think, how could we get back to the real pristine pure teachings of Islam? The effort has to be made. We should have confidence that it is God who would guide us and God would guide those who are sincere Insha Allah! At this stage I would like to tell listeners as to why I am discussing this subject. The subject is as to whether over the last 1400 years, could changes have come in to the pristine and pure teachings of Islam as at the time of the Prophet? Now again, why do I want to find that out? Well it is no doubt interesting and you may even say necessary to find out. Bu the main reason was that I was talking on the first 5 Aayaths of the Quran of Surah Baqarah. This consisted of 15 phrases. So I was doing research and talking on a phrase at a time. I then came to the phrase Wa Yuqeemoonas Swalaath and I thought it necessary that before I begin to talk on Wa Yuqeemoonas Swalaath I should first try to describe what the word Salaath really means. So I began a series of talks on a number of varied topics trying to find out whether the word meaning of the word Swalaath as we now understand is is actually the meaning as the Muslims at the time of the Prophet understood it. That is why I am trying to find out the changes that have come in to the teachings and practices of Islam over these 1400 years. The research and the presentation of these talks is indeed demanding. I sincerely hope and pray that all of you benefit from these talks as much as I benefit from preparing and then presenting these talks to you.

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires

May Allah Taaalah guide us all and accept us all. Jazza Kalla Khairan. Assalamu Alaikum
Imtiaz Muhsin Colombo Sri Lanka crescent786@hotmail.com

You Tube Channel - HaneefanMusliman

Note on Talks on History of Muslims


As Muslims it is necessary that we are aware of the History of Muslims over the last 1400 years. It is necessary for us to realize the winds of change over these last 1400 years especially since Muslim Populations have been through quite some turbulent times. I have covered this vast area in 5 talks. (This is insufficient) The first two talks were on the history and the next three talks were from another viewpoint. I discuss the response of the Muslims due to the many changes that were affecting their lives their religion and thus their culture. These Talks are numbered and titled as follows: Talk No 114 116 117 118 119 Topic The History Series The Effects of 1400 Years - Part 1 Effects of 1400 years - Part 2 The Muslim Response Series The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events surrounding the Caliphates of the Khulafaa Ur Raashidheen The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events surrounding the beginning of the Ummayyads The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events in the Period of the Muslim Empires Date Broadcast Jan 25th 2013 Feb 8th 2013 Feb 22nd 2013 March 29th 2013 April 5th 2013

119 Muslim Responses - Period of the Muslim Empires