Irfan Khan

“Main Tujhko Batata hu, Taqdeer-i-umam kya hain,

Shamsir-o-Shinan awwal, taoos –o-raubab akhir”

_ IQBAL

I believe that history is a subject which can help any community or individual to understand their past and motivate them when they feel oppressed and unpriviledged. There have been numerous examples in the past throughout the globe where the community or the nation has used its prestigious history to tackle its oppressors and to uplift itself.

During the medieval period or early in the 20TH century bards,kahaniwalas, dastango went to communities and told stories of their past that helped the people to understand their history.

The purpose of writing this journal is to convey the message to muslims that they should read their past and understand that they are not just 2 billion identities without a past and without future purpose. Their history is the richest in the world filled with pride and prestige. They brought the world into the age of renaissance when the whole of Europe was still in the dark age. A history of 1000 years that was flourished by achievements in fields of politics, sciences, culture and ushered in stability and the age of innovation.

WHEN IT BEGINS

When the prophet left Mecca and migrated to Madinah(NOW IN KSA) in 622 A.D with less than hundred followers he established a constitutional state in Madinah (prophet Muhammad(s.a.w)drafted contitution of Madinah; many modern nations were inspired from this draft). Within less than a century the muslim territorial empire stretched from Paris in the west to Lahore in the east; the empire of islam led the world in science ,medicine, astronomy, mathematics, culture, commerce, etc. for over a vast and rich history of 1000 years.

Between 7TH and 17TH century muslim power shifted from Arabs to Persians to Turks to the great Mughals. Capital of Islamic empire moved from Madinah to Damascus to Baghdad to Cordoba to Cairo to Ishfahan to lavish Delhi. Series of new dynasties overran old ones- Ummayyads, Abbassids, Fatimids, followed by Timur the conqueror and the three gunpowder empires- Safavids, Ottomans and Mughals.

IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE

“Go in quest of knowledge even onto China”

“seek knowledge from cradle to grave”

“one hour of meditation of the work of the creator is better than 70 years of prayers” ……… prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

During the period of Abbassid rulers like Harun al Rashid, Mansur and Mamun (754 A.D-833 A.D), the age of rennaissane was at its peak where many developments took place. This helped the human mind to further excavate knowledge and life style became better for the known world.

While in Europe the great emperor Charlemagne struggled to even write his own name, muslim capitals like Cordoba(Spain) were setting new cultural and intellectual milestones. Dar-ul-Hikmah(House of Wisdom) was established in Cairo (EGYPT), the capital of the Fatimids. Al-Azhar University, also in Egypt, in the 9TH century included in its syllabus physics, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. Baghdad(IRAQ), the capital of the mighty Abbassids had its Bayt-ul-hikmah or house of wisdom where knowledge of the entire known world was accumulated in a single place.

It all started from translation of Greek, Indian, Persian and other ancient textual books.They translated Socrates, Aristotle, Aryabhat, Bhanugupta, Plato, Galen, Euclid, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and others. They used their writings and put them in practice and also advanced many hypothetical theories and applied them in practice.

Laws of Ibn Sina(AVICENNA) and Al Razi dominated European medicine for nearly 500 years. Ibn Sina himself developed over 700 drugs. Algebra, trigonometry were contributions of the great Al-Khwarizmi.

Nizam-ul-Mulk’s book Siyastanama has a great influence on 21st century modern government or institution administration.

Jabir ibn Hayyan is known for his contribution in alchemy and practical chemistry. Abbassid astronomers calculated the earth’s diameter at 7909 miles.

Ibn Firnas skilled in mechanics and mechanical devices is credited with demonstrating to the world the first practical hypothesis of flight.

Medieval period was also a period of continuous warfare, religious bigotry and class tussle. Abdul Qadir Jilani, Khwaza Muinuddin Chisti and hundreds of others secured religious hegemony in the society.

1000 years of Islamic history also saw great men like the 2ND pious caliph Umar bin Khattab control more areas of land than Alexander the Great did. Harun Rashid’s court in Baghdad inspired ‘One Thousands Nights’ stories (ALIF LAILA), when Salahuddin Ayyubi conquered Jerusalem and forgave life of all Christians and Jews, against what crusaders had done with muslims a century before. Akbar the great came forward with his policy of Sulh-i-Kul (PEACE WITH ALL).

This long period of time was the legacy of the prophet that inspired the pursuit of knowledge, justice and the rule of law. There was a birth of revolutionary values and an attitude that created a different type of environment where one can struggle for what one believes to be right rather than to blindly follow anything.

However, muslims today focus more on making more money rather than on gaining knowledge. They indulge more in sectarian conflict; they fight against each other to determine the future of islam. Today, the word ‘muslim’ is most easily associated with the vision of oil, jihad, terrorism and oppressed women. They become hot topics that define their relationship to the rest of the world, but we need to look beyond the sensational headlines and breaking news and consider who are the real muslims.

The 21ST century muslims have destroyed themselves and accuse one another for their downfall.

But being an optimist it is my belief that the new generation understands the value of pursuit of knowledge. They should not engage themselves with that which is of no use, they should understand their predecessors’ work, so they can achieve their greatness again; their development means development of all others and of the society as a whole.

Irfan Khan studies History at Jamia Millia Islamia.

The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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