Today, there are over 500 million Muslims throughout the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), making it one of the largest population centers of Muslims in the world. Since Islam first entered India, it has contributed greatly to the area and its people. Today, numerous theories about how India came to be such a largely Muslim land exist. Politically, some (such as the Hindutva movement in India) try to make Islam seem foriegn to India, by insisting it only exists because of invasions by Arab and Persian Muslims. The truth, however, is far from that.
The Earliest Muslim Indians
Even before the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the 600s, Arab traders were in contact with India. Merchants would regularly sail to the west coast of India to trade goods such as spices, gold, and African goods. Naturally, when the Arabs began to convert to Islam, they carried their new religion to the shores of India. The first mosque of India, the Cheraman Juma Masjid, was built in 629 (during the life of Prophet Muhammad) in Kerala, by the first Muslim from India, Cheraman Perumal Bhaskara Ravi Varma. Through continued trade between Arab Muslims and Indians, Islam continued to spread in coastal Indian cities and towns, both through immigration and conversion.
Muhammad bin Qasim
The first great expansion of Islam into India came during the Umayyad Dynasty of caliphs, who were based in Damascus. In 711, the Umayyads appointed a young 17 year old man from Ta’if to extend Umayyad control into Sindh: Muhammad bin Qasim. Sindh is the land around the Indus River in the Northwestern part of the subcontinent, in present-day Pakistan. Muhammad bin Qasim led his army of 6,000 soldiers to the far eastern reaches of Persia, Makran.
He encountered little resistance as he made his way into India. When he reached the city of Nerun, on the banks of the Indus River, he was welcomed into the city by the Buddhist monks that controlled it. Most cities along the Indus thus voluntarily came under Muslim control, with no fighting. In some cases, oppressed Buddhist minorities reached out to the Muslim armies for protection against Hindu governors.
Despite the support and approval of much of the population, the Raja of Sindh, Dahir, opposed the Muslim expansion and mobilized his army against Muhammad bin Qasim. In 712, the two armies met, with a decisive victory for the Muslims. With the victory, all of Sindh came under Muslim control.
It is important to note, however, that the population of Sindh was not forced to convert to Islam at all. In fact, for almost everyone, there was no change in day-to-day life. Muhammad bin Qasim promised security and religious freedom to all Hindus and Buddhists under his control. For example, the Brahman caste continued their jobs as tax collectors and Buddhists monks continued to maintain their monastaries. Due to his religious tolerance and justice, many cities regularly greeted him and his armies with people dancing and music.
Patterns of Conversion
The successive waves of Muslim armies penetrating into India followed much the same pattern. Leaders such as Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad Tughluq expanded Muslim political domains without altering the religious or social fabric of Indian society.
Because pre-Islamic India was entirely based on a caste system in which society was broken into separate parts, conversion to Islam happened in a step-by-step process. Often, entire castes would convert to Islam at a time. This would happen for many different reasons. Often, however, the equality Islam provided was more attractive than the caste system’s organized racism. In the caste system, who you are born to determines your position in society. There was no opportunity for social mobility or to achieve greater than what your parents achieved. By converting to Islam, people had the opportunity to move up in society, and no longer were subservient to the Brahman caste.
Buddhism, which was once very popular in the subcontinent, slowly died out under Muslim rule. Traditionally, when people wanted to escape the caste system, they would move to the major population centers and convert to Buddhism. When Islam became an option, however, people began to convert to Islam instead of Buddhism, while still leaving the caste system. The myths of Islam violently destroying Buddhism in India are simply false. Buddhists were tolerated under Muslim rule and no evidence exists that shows forced conversions or violence against them.
Wandering teachers also had a major role in bringing Islam to the masses. Muslim scholars traveled throughout India, making it their goal to educate people about Islam. These teachers had a major role in bringing Islam to the masses in the countryside, not just the upper classes around the Muslim rulers.
Did Islam Spread by Force?
While some claim that Islam’s huge population in India is a result of violence and forced conversion, the evidence does not back up this idea at all. Although Muslim leaders replaced Hindu kings in most areas, society was left as is. Stories of forced conversion are very few and often not credible enough to warrant academic discussion.
If Islam spread through violence and warfare, the Muslim community today in India would exist only in the areas closest to the rest of the Muslim world. Thus only the western part of the subcontinent would have any Muslim population at all. What we see instead is pockets of Islam throughout the subcontinent. For example, Bangladesh and its 150 million Muslims are in the far east, separated from other Muslim-majority areas by Hindu lands in India. Isolated communities of Muslims exist also exist in western Myanmar, central India, and eastern Sri Lanka. These communities of Muslims are proof of Islam spreading peacefully throughout India, regardless of whether or not a Muslim government existed there. If Islam spread by force as some claim, these communities of Muslims would not exist.
Islam is an integral part of India and its history. As the Indian subcontinent remains today a multi-ethnic and multi-religious place, it is important to understand the position Islam has in the region. The political claims that some making regarding Islam as if it is an invading religion and foriegn to the people of India need to be defied with the truth of Islam’s peaceful spread throughout India.
Hodgson, M. The Venture of Islam . 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Print.
Kennedy, Hugh. The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2007. Print.
“World’s second oldest mosque is in India.” Bahrain Tribune 07 06 2006, n. pag. Web. 23 Nov. 2012..
Post originally found on: http://lostislamichistory.com/how-islam-spread-in-india/
I love to read and learn about the daily routines of successful men and women of history: people who achieved tremendous accomplishments and make you realise that you haven’t even scratched your full human potential yet. By exploring and learning the daily routines of successful people, you discover new habits and new routines that might lead to your own success, In sha Allah5.
As I was learning and exploring daily routines, it occurred to me that there could not be a daily routine that is more successful, more balanced, and more pleasing to Allah than the daily routine of our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . He is the most successful man who ever lived, and the most successful man both in dunya and akhirah.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” [Qur’an: Chapter 33, Verse 21]
Some pointers to keep in mindBased on this, I started reading and compiling the daily routine of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as narrated to us by his loyal companions and his devoted family. Before I start though, I must mention a few things:
With that, let’s begin exploring the daily routine of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and learn how we can apply some of his routine to our modern lives today. I’ll do this in two ways. I’ll first simply describe how he spent each part of the day and then highlight some practical ways of how his routine for that part of the day applies to our daily lives.
From Fajr till sunriseI want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself in the household of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at Fajr time. The call to prayer is called by Bilal , which wakes up the Prophet who was taking a nap after his long night prayer.
Waking up - He wakes up and the first thing he does is use the siwak and say this dua: “All praise is for Allah who gave us life after having taken it from us and unto Him is the Resurrection.” He listens intently to the adhan and says what the muadhin says then he makes his wudhu and prays the two rak’ahs of sunnah of Fajr prayer. After his two rak’ahs, if his wife is awake, he speaks to her lovingly and if she’s asleep, he would lie on his right side until the iqama is called.
When Bilal would see that the people have gathered, he would come close to the Prophet’s house and say: “Prayer, O Prophet of Allah.”
Leaving the house - The Prophet ﷺ would come out of his house, look up to the sky, then say this dua: “In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah, and there is no might nor power except with Allah. O Allah, I take refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.”
Entering the masjid - Then he enters the masjid with his right foot and says this dua: “In the name of Allah, and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, open the gates of Your mercy for me. I take refuge with Allah, The Supreme and with His Noble Face, and His eternal authority from the accursed devil.” When Bilal sees him enter the masjid, he would call the iqama and the Companions would stand in rows and the Prophet ﷺ would lead them in prayers.
Following Fajr prayer - After the prayers, the Prophet ﷺ would remember Allah and perform the adhkar after salah, facing the people as he performs these remembrances.
Then the companions gather closer to the Prophet ﷺ and he would face them and talk to them. Sometimes he would admonish them with a powerful admonishment that would make the Companions cry, sometimes he would tell them a story, sometimes he would ask them questions, sometimes he would ask if any of the Companions saw a dream and he would explain it for him or he’d share a dream he had and explain it to them. Other times he’d just listen to the Companions as they spoke about their lives, perhaps remembering their lives before Islam and they’d laugh at the ignorance they used to live in and the Prophet ﷺ would smile with them. The Prophet ﷺ would sit with them until the sun rises.
After sunrise - After sunrise, the Prophet ﷺ would go back to his home. He would enter his home saying: “In the name of Allah we enter and in the name of Allah we leave, and upon our Lord we place our trust.” As soon as he enters, he would use the siwak, and say salam to his whole family and visit all his wives, asking how they are and making dua for them. During his visits, he might ask if there’s any food available that day; if there is, he would eat, and if there’s none, he would say “Then, I’m fasting”.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Fajr and sunrise
Between sunrise and Dhuhr time - After he visits his family, he would go back to the masjid and pray two rak’ahs, then he would sit in the masjid and the companions would gather around him. This was a known time for everyone in Madinah to come and see the Prophet ﷺ if they wanted to spend time with him, ask him anything or needed anything from him. Sometimes there would be lots of Companions and sometimes there would be few, depending on the Companions’ schedule and activity that day. Sometimes the Companions would take turns to be at this gathering and learn from the Prophet ﷺ whilst others go to trade or farm in the land and they would teach each other what they learned from the Prophet ﷺ later in the day.
The Prophet ﷺ would spend this time teaching and sharing from the knowledge that Allah has given him. He wouldn’t simply sit and lecture; he would sometimes ask questions or get into a discussion with the Companions with the aim of teaching them a lesson, and this helped in developing the knowledge of the Companions and the iman in their hearts.
Sometimes newborn babies were brought to the Prophet ﷺ during this time, so the Prophet ﷺ would perform the sunnah of tahneek, make dua for them, and seek Allah’s blessing upon them. Sometimes a new harvest would be brought to him so that the Prophet ﷺ makes dua for it and he would give this new harvest to the youngest child in the gathering.
This was the time that the Prophet ﷺ would also receive delegations from those who converted to Islam and he would greet them and seek their news and see how he can help them.
At these gatherings, the Prophet ﷺ never had a special seat or clearly marked symbol, to the point that when strangers would come to the gathering, they would have to ask who among them is the Prophet! (Only later in his life, did the Companions insist on making a special raised area for him and the Prophet agreed).
Sometimes food would be given as a gift at this gathering and everyone would eat together and there would be enough for everybody even if food is little, from the blessings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
This gathering extends or contracts depending on each day, but it lasts till the time before Dhuhr when the Companions would go to their homes or their fields for a nap before Dhuhr.
Visits - During these hours between sunrise and just before Dhuhr, the Prophet ﷺ would also go to visit some of his relatives and companions. He might visit his daughter Fatimah and spend time with his grandsons, or he might visit his Companions who invited him that morning, or who are ill and not feeling well.
Also, during these hours he would walk through the market, greeting the passersby with his beautiful smile, greeting children on his way, and if a person stops him (whether male or female, young or old), he would stop and listen to them and see how he can help them. Sometimes he would walk alone, other times with his Companions.
Before Dhuhr time, the Prophet ﷺ would go to the house of his wife whose turn it is to spend that day with, and as soon as he enters, he would first use the siwak, say salam to his family and pray 4 or 6 or 8 rak’ahs of Duha prayer. Then sometimes if there’s food he eats, and if there isn’t he would continue his fast if he started fasting that morning.
Usually at this time, the women of Madinah would come and visit the Prophet ﷺ and ask questions about their religion which they might be embarrassed to ask in a crowded masjid. The wives of the Prophet ﷺ would be there to explain feminine matters of the religion.
This is the time when he would also be helping his family, serving them, repairing his shoes and clothes, milking the sheep or goat, and helping himself and his family with daily chores. He would also spend quality time with his family, talking, smiling and laughing with them.
Sometimes whilst at home, his close Companions would visit him at this hour such as Abu Bakr , Umar and Uthman .
Then he would take a nap till close to Dhuhr time.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between sunrise and Dhuhr
From Dhuhr till Asr - When Dhuhr time comes and Bilal calls for prayer, the Prophet ﷺ would wake up from his nap if he’s still asleep, and would make wudhu then pray in his home four rak’ahs of sunnah prayers before Dhuhr. He’d wait for the salah in his home, then he’d come out to the masjid and Bilal would call for the prayer to start.
After Dhuhr prayer, this is when he normally goes to the minbar (pulpit) and give a speech to the Companions. Most of the Companions gather at this time, so the masjid is full and they are awake from their naps so they are mostly alert and fresh.
After this speech, he would return home and pray the two rak’ahs sunnah after Dhuhr then he’d go out with his Companions to fulfill certain duties needed in the city or he’d stay in the masjid till Asr.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Dhuhr and Asr
From Asr till Maghreb - When the call to prayer for Asr is called, he would wait for people to gather in the masjid, then encourage them to pray four rak’ahs before Asr prayer. He’d then lead them in prayers and after the prayers he’d face them and give a short talk. He did not prolong it since many of his Companions would need to head out to complete their duties and prepare their evening meals before the sun sets.
Family time - Once he returns from the masjid after Asr, he would visit all his wives and settle in his wife’s house whose turn it was to spend the night with. Sometimes, all his wives would meet in the house of the wife whose turn it is. Normally, at this stage, the Prophet would have like a “halaqa” with his family but in a relaxed atmosphere; he would ask his wives questions or they’d ask him questions and the Prophetic house would learn and grow in understanding of their religion.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s ﷺ routine between Asr and Maghrib
From Maghrib till Isha - When the Maghrib adhan is called, he wouldn’t stay long and would proceed to prayer. When he would enter the masjid, he’d see his Companions filling the Masjid and praying the two rak’ahs he recommended before Mahgrib. As he enters the masjid, the iqama is called and he leads his Companions in a prayer in which he normally recites short surahs.
After the prayer is over, he doesn’t give a talk because people need the time to rest and have their dinner. He would come home and pray the two rak’ahs of sunnah after Maghrib, then he’d have his dinner. Sometimes he used to invite some of his companions over to have dinner at his place if there’s food; sometimes he’d come home and find nothing except dates and water. Sometimes days would pass and food wouldn’t be cooked in the house of the Prophet ﷺ.
Eating dinner - His food was placed on the floor for him, and the Prophet ﷺ never ate on a table. When the food is brought to him, he would say “Bismillah” and eat from what’s next to him, and he would eat with three fingers. He never complained of whatever was presented to him: he either ate it or he would leave the food if he didn’t like it.
If he was eating with one of his wives, he would make this quality time for her, to the point of feeding her sometimes or eating from the portion where his wife ate from, or drinking from the same portion his wife drank from.
If he sat with his friends, the dinner meal never went by without a pleasing talk, or teaching manners or spreading knowledge.
After he finished eating, the Prophet ﷺ used to lick his fingers and praise his Lord abundantly for the food given. He would then wash his mouth.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Maghrib and Isha
From Isha till midnight - The Prophet ﷺ would remain in his home until the call to prayer for Isha is called, and he would normally not hasten the Isha prayer. If the Companions are gathered early, he would start the prayer; if the Companions are delayed, he would delay the prayers.
He would rarely speak or give a talk after Isha, because the people are tired and they need their sleep.
More family time - Then the Prophet ﷺ would return to his home and pray the two sunnah rak’ahs after Isha prayer. He would then spend a small amount of time talking to his family and enjoying their company. Sometimes he would go to his close Companions’ houses and spend time with them, especially his close friends Abu Bakr and Umar .
Sometimes on his way back from the Companions’ houses he might pass by someone reciting Qur’an beautifully and he would stand there and listen. Or he would enter the masjid and say salam to whoever is there, as the masjid always had the poor Muslims spending their days there. He would pray in the masjid before entering his home.
Going to bed - When he enters his home, he prepares himself for sleep, hangs his clothes and enters into bed with his wife, sharing a blanket and a pillow together. His bed was made of animal skin stuffed with fiber and his pillow was made of similar material. He used to place his siwak close to his head, so that he’d use it as soon as he wakes up.
He would sleep on his right side, and place his hand under his right cheek, then recite the adhkar before sleeping. Sometimes he would then talk to his wife and spend quality time conversing together before they drift off to sleep.
Then he would sleep, and if he turns during sleep, you’d hear him say a special remembrance, and would continue sleeping until midnight.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine after Isha till midnight
From midnight till Fajr - When the night reaches midnight, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ wakes up and sits, wiping sleep from his blessed face, and he’d take his siwak and brush his teeth with it, then he would look up to the sky and think plenty and read the last ten verses of Surat Al-Imran. He would then get up and make wudhu, put his clothes on and start his night prayer either at home or in the masjid.
Performing night prayer - Sometimes before starting his night prayer, he would remember Allah abundantly, glorifying him, as if to charge his energy for the long night prayer ahead. His first two rak’ahs were quite light and short, after which he proceeded with his long night prayer.
If you were to observe the Prophet ﷺ praying at night, you’d feel that he’s truly immersed in another world and he’s in no haste to finish. He gathers all his emotions, feelings, and callings and pours them into his prayers and calling upon his Lord. He would read hundreds of verses, verse by verse. If he passes by a verse that has mercy in it, he would ask Allah for His mercy. If he passes by a verse that has punishment in it, he would seek Allah’s refuge from the punishment. And if he passes by a verse that glorifies his Lord, he would glorify his Lord.
Not only were his recitations long, but even his bowing and prostration were almost as long as his standing, to the point that one day one of his Companions joined him for the night prayer and was about to quit because it was getting too difficult for him.
Praying Witr - The Prophet ﷺ remained in this state of praying, supplicating, glorifying, reciting, bowing and prostrating from midnight till there was nothing left of the night except a sixth of it. He would then wake his wife to join him for Witr prayer and they’d pray three rak’ahs of Witr together.
Sometimes during the hours between midnight and Fajr, the Prophet ﷺ would leave his house and go to the Baqee’ cemetery and make dua for the deceased. This was especially during his last years on earth .
When the night was about to end and the last sixth was remaining, the Prophet ﷺ would go to bed and rest his body till Fajr prayer and the beginning of a new day.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s ﷺ routine from midnight till Fajr
Reflections from the Prophet’s ﷺ routine
As you read the above, you probably had a parallel thought crossing your mind: How’s my routine stacking up to this blessed routine?
Reflecting on the above, there are few points to keep in mind:
I pray that you found this article beneficial and that you learned a thing or two about our beloved Prophet’s routine. What’s more important is that we try (to the best of our abilities) to mimic even half of this routine so as to model ourselves and our habits onto the habits of the most successful man that ever lived, In sha Allah.
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Today’s American political landscape can be quite a confusing and frightening place. The ideas of the Founding Fathers are commonly cited as the foundation of the nation. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are seen as the infallible documents on which American life are based. Freedom, democracy, and liberty are the cornerstones of political and social ideas in the United States.
At the same time, however, the rising tide of Islamophobia is making its presence felt. Politicians support the characterization of Islamic life as incompatible with American society. Media “pundits” decry the supposed influence Muslims are having on destroying the basis of American political and social ideas.
The truly ironic part of this is that Muslims in fact helped formulate the ideas that the United States is based on. While this article will not argue that Islam and Muslims are the only cause of the American Revolution, the impact that Muslims had on the establishment of America is clear and should not be overlooked.
ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT
The political and social ideas that caused the American colonists to revolt against the British Empire were formulated in a movement known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that argued that science and reason should be the basis of human society, not blind following of monarchs and church authority. On July 4th, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American revolutionaries signed the Declaration of Independence, a document written by Thomas Jefferson and heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, which made official their break from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America.
The Enlightenment was driven by a group of European philosophers and scientists who were going against the prevailing ideas of governance in Europe at the time. Among these thinkers were people such as John Locke, René Descartes, Isaac Newton and Montesquieu.
John Locke, an Englishman who lived from 1632 to 1704, promoted some of the most influential ideas of the Enlightenment. He pioneered the idea that humans are naturally good, and are corrupted by society or government to becoming deviant. Locke described this idea in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding as the tabula rasa, a Latin phrase meaning blank slate. The idea was not original to him, however. In fact, Locke directly took the idea from a Muslim philosopher from the 1100s, Ibn Tufail. In Ibn Tufail’s book, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, he describes an identical idea about how humans act as a blank slate, absorbing experiences and information from their surroundings.
The same idea manifests itself in the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). He stated that “No child is born except on the fitra.” Fitra here can be defined as the natural, pure state of a person. According to Islamic thought, all humans are born in a natural state of purity, with belief in one God, and that as they grow older, they adopt the ideas and beliefs of the people around them, particularly their parents. This is the intellectual forerunner of the tabula rasa that Locke learned from Ibn Tufail.
Through Locke, this concept would influence the political idea that humans should not be constrained by an oppressive and intolerant government. His ideas, which he borrowed from Ibn Tufail, would end up forming a cornerstone of America’s revolutionary ideas that the colonists in America would be much better off if they were not under the oppressive British government. Locke further expanded on the subject by describing something he called the social contract. In this social contract theory, the people must consent to be ruled by a government that in turn agrees to protect the natural rights of its citizens.
This same concept is also seen in 1377 in the Muqaddimah of the great Muslim historian and sociologist, Ibn Khaldun. In it, he states, “The concomitants of good rulership are kindness to, and protection of, one’s subjects. The true meaning of royal authority is realized when a ruler defends his subjects.” Here Ibn Khaldun is explaining one of the main political ideas of the Enlightenment, 300 years before Locke proposes the same argument: that a government must defend, not infringe on, the rights of its citizens. Later, in 1776, the preamble of the Declaration of Independence stated a similar argument: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
John Locke also pioneered the concept of natural rights: the idea that humans all have a set of God-given rights that should not be taken away by any government. In the Declaration of Independence, this is stated as “…they [men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
While most American and European textbooks promote this as a unique “Western” idea, the truth is that it is far older than John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. Again, in the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun explains: “Those who infringe upon property commit an injustice. Those who deny people their rights commit an injustice.” He goes on to explain that this leads to the destruction of a state, and cites examples from the life of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) where he forbade injustice. The concepts that a Muslim government should not infringe upon rights was very clear in Islamic law and was a well-accepted idea throughout Muslim empires.
Other Enlightenment philosophers were heavily influenced by earlier Muslims and Islamic ideas. Without going into great detail, the following are some examples:
Isaac Newton was greatly influenced by Ibn al-Haytham, the Muslim scientist who pioneered the scientific method, optics, and the laws of motion. In Europe, Ibn al-Haytham was well known, as were his ideas about science and philosophy. Isaac Newton borrowed from Ibn al-Haytham the idea that there are natural laws that run the universe (an idea first proposed by Caliph al-Ma’mun as his rationale for establishing the House of Wisdom in Baghdad). Later Enlightenment philosophers used the idea of natural laws to support concepts of natural rights, the government’s role, and economic systems. All of these ideas influenced the Founding Fathers of America who cited them as the basis of the United States.
Montesquieu is usually cited as the first to propose the ideas of separation of government into several branches. During his time in Europe, monarchs held absolute power and shared control of the state with no one. The Muslim world had historically never run in such a way. While caliphs in the Umayyad and Abbasid Empires held most of the power, there also existed the idea of shura, which was a council whose job it was to advise the caliph. In those governments there also existed ministers who carried out tasks under the supervision of the monarch. Perhaps the most important however, were the qadis, or judges, who formed a legal system based on Islamic law and were independent of the ruling caliph. A prime example of how Islamic governments are designed to work through a bureaucracy is Imam al-Mawardi’s Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyyah [On the Ordinances of the Government], written in the early 1000s. In it, al-Mawardi explains how the caliph and other government officials are to carry out their roles within their individual spheres, all while staying within the framework of Islamic law.
This system of government was well known in Europe from the Muslim European states in Spain and Sicily, where many European Christians traveled to study under Muslim scholars. Al-Mawardi’s work was translated into Latin and disseminated throughout Europe, where he was known as Alboacen, a Latin corruption of his name.
All of the philosophical ideas already mentioned would not have had much effect if it were not for a curious black drink that came out of the Muslim world – coffee.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, the drink of choice was alcohol. In France and other areas that grew grapes, wine was the dominant drink, while beer and ale were popular further north. Drinking water was actually rare, as it was believed that alcoholic beverages were cleaner than water and more filling. The result of this belief was constant drunkenness among the European population.
In Yemen in the middle of the 1400s, a new drink that was made from coffee beans was beginning to become quite popular. The Yemenis were roasting and then boiling coffee beans in water to produce a drink that was rich in caffeine, a stimulant that causes the body to have more energy and the brain to think more clearly. Through the 1400s and 1500s, coffee spread throughout the Muslim world, and coffee shops began to pop up in major cities. These coffee shops became a center of urban society, as people met there to socialize and enjoy the company of others.
By the 1600s, these coffee houses had spread to Europe as well. Although there was initial resistance to drinking a “Muslim drink” in Christian Europe, the beverage caught on. The coffeehouses became a central aspect of the Enlightenment, particularly in France. Whereas previously Europeans had been drinking alcohol regularly, they now met in coffee houses, where they discussed philosophy, government, politics, and other ideas that were the cornerstones of the Enlightenment. French Enlightenment philosophers such as Diderot, Voltaire, and Rousseau were all regular customers at the coffeehouses of Paris.
Were it not for this drink from the Muslim lands, Europe might never have had the Enlightenment, as the philosophers would never have met to discuss ideas, nor had the mental clarity (due to alcohol consumption) to think philosophically.
HOW DID THIS ALL LEAD TO REVOLUTION?
As previously stated, the American Revolution was a direct effect of the European Enlightenment. The theories of rights, government, and the human self that were the basis of Enlightenment took form in the 1700s at the hands of great minds such as Locke, Newton, and Montesquieu. They, however, borrowed their ideas from earlier Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Tufail, Ibn Sina, and Ibn Khaldun. Were it not for their ideas which were rooted in Islam, the Enlightenment may not have been as insightful, or may not have even happened. Added to this was the effect that coffee had on Europe in giving the philosophers a forum to expand their ideas and learn new ones.
Without the Enlightenment, the American colonists never would have had the intellectual backing they needed to revolt. The ideas of freedom, liberty, and human rights that America is founded on are originally Muslim ideas formulated by Muslim philosophers working with the Quran and Hadith as their basis. While it is not accurate to claim that Muslims single-handedly caused the American Revolution, their contributions and influences cannot be overlooked. Those who claim that Islamic ideas are not compatible with American society must remember that it was those Islamic ideas that helped form American society, freedom, and liberty in the first place.
Khaldūn, I. (1969). The muqaddimah, an introduction to history. Bollingen.
Morgan, M. (2007). Lost history. Washington D.C. : National Geographic Society.
Russell, G. A. (1994). The ‘arabick’ interest of the natural philosophers in seventeenth-century England. Brill Publishers.
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