Early Muslim Civilization (1)

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Islam, Muslims, and Ummah. These terms are interrelated. Islam as generally understood is a religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him or simply, PBUH. [Hereafter, the Prophet-PBUH.] The term Muslim refers to adherents of this religion and the term Ummah to the Muslim community. The focus of this book is not on Islam, but on the Ummah as viewed from a Muslim perspective.

The major theme of this book is the history of this Ummah during the era of the Prophet PBUH. This era covers a 23-year period: 13 years in Mecca era and 10 years in Yatsrib era. During that period, Mecca was one of the most important trading centers in the entire Arab Peninsula while Yatsrib (now Medina) was an agricultural-based city. Medina in that era was economically dominated by the minority of Jewish Arab.

The era of the Prophet PBUH is of interest and unique. It is of interest as it witnesses a humanly experience how this below-world “interacts” in one or another way with there upper-world in years. It is unique as such experience is very likely the first and the last in the entire human history, at least viewed from the Muslim perspective.

This book can be viewed as a brief introduction to the history of early Muslim. It dedicated to those who are interested in the theme of this book but lacking appetites of reading conventional-book or too- academic-in-orientation, or too busy. This book is primarily dedicated to Muslim readers who have a desire to refresh their memories on the ancestors of their religious traditions, with reliable references. More than that, to them this book is equipped with references of the holy text of the Koran that they generally believe as the primary sources of Islamic teachings that preserve universal and perennial truth.

This book is dedicated to those who are … lacking appetites of reading conventional-book or too- academic-in-orientation, or too busy

This book is also offered humbly to non-Muslim readers, especially for Westerners or those of westernized. For them this book is expected to help to reflect the possibility of their misunderstanding of Islam as indicated in the following quotation:

For ordinary Western mind, the world of Islam seems incomprehensible. Its attitude appears bigoted and uncompromising, and their actions were arbitrary. Nor this is not the only modern judgment.  As far back as the Middle Ages, the propaganda of the Christian church presented Muslims as savages, and throughout Europe people flocked to banners of the Crusade banners to restore the Holy Land to the Christendom (Roberts, 1982: 1).

According to Roberts in the same book (page 1), this misunderstanding only “changes little,” not because works on Islam are not published in the West. What is “strikingly lost … is a popular work that clearly sets out the beliefs, attitudes, and customs of Islam in ways that are easily understood by Western readers but not seen through the veil of Christian values”.

Unlike Roberts who focuses on various aspects of Islamic teachings including law, politics, economics and family life, this book focuses on the history of the civilization of early Ummah. The subject matter of this book is relatively complete but concise: complete because it covers almost all important events experienced by the Ummah in the initial phase of its history, concise because it focuses only on issues that are considered fundamental. Emphasis is given more on understanding the “forest” of history than looking at the “tree” of events that took place in it.

This book often citing the holy text of the Koran aimed primarily as a means to understand spiritual dimension historical events being discussed. In addition, the Koran, with its distinctive narrative style, does provide many testimonies about the characteristics of historical actors and events that are rarely mentioned by the historian in this area of the study. As an illustration, this Scripture gave testimony about the character of the Muhajirin and Anshar, two group of people who became the backbone of the early Muslim community. Such a divine testimony (if we are allowed to use this term) has been generally ignored by the academician. As another illustration, the sacred text also explains the nature of the victory of the Battle of Badr and the defeat of the Battle of Uhud experienced by the Ummah. So, it is actually rather surprising if historians are generally not using the holy texts of the Islamic Scriptures as their references. This book uses “English Ismatullah” of QuranMajeed (www.pakdata.com) for the English translation of the Koran.

The emergence of a civilization certainly framed in a particular historical context that needs appropriately understood to obtain an adequate understanding of the civilization concerned. Therefore, before discussing the main topic that is the early civilization of the Ummah, the chapter that follows (Section 2) discusses the historical context of the emergence of the religion which shaping that civilization, Islam. In human parlance, this context has apparently opened the way for Islam to emerge as if God who subtly planned and made it happened at His own chosen time.

The discussion that follows (in Section 3) is on the emergence of Islam as a religion as marked by the first Revelation descended to the Prophet-PBUH and on how this religion was strongly rejected by the Mecca infidel mainly from their ruling circle. This rejection was so strong as it endangering the survival of the very early and small Muslim community. Nonetheless, the faith of this small Ummah was not weakened and even strengthened as it was guided gradually by the Revelation during the Mecca era known as Mecca Surah. The Revelation made no difference to the infidels and even encouraged them to intensify their oppression to the Ummah.

The oppression reached its climax as the Ummah was forced to take refuge in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and then migrated or Hijrah to Medina. It was the Hijrah to Medina that marked the emergence of the Ummah civilization that was uniquely guided by the Revelation, at least from the Muslim perspective. Section 4 discusses this. Section 5 summarizes the discussions in the previous sections and provides some reflections on it….@

 

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