From the seventh to the early seventeenth century, Muslims dominated the world. Inspired by the Prophet and his emphasis on education, Justice and social consciousness, they created a civilization that led the world in knowledge, science, culture, architecture and quality of life. For a thousand years, the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Timurids, Ottomans, Safavids an Moguls ruled – establishing the golden age of Islam – while Europe slumbered in the Dark Ages.
Then, in the late seventeenth century, Europeans emerged as the new masters and Muslims were cast to the heap. For three hundred years, Muslims suffered the indignities and deprivations of a conquered people.
After the two World Wars of the twentieth century, Europe and Great Britain’s monopoly of power declined, the Muslims states in the Middle East were born and great leaders started the long fight to re-establish their people. Thus emerged a new generation of freedom fighters and nation builders, including Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, Kemal Ataturk, Gaddafi, king Faisal and Ruhollah Khomeini.
Muslims is the exciting story of these great men and their amazing achievements.
Educated in the UK and Pakistan, Ali mahmood holds degree in Politics, Econimics and Law. His political activities have taken him from jail to parliament: he was a member of parliament under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment by Zia-ul-Haq’s government.
His business interests have been varied, including ownership of companies in the fields of television in Pakistan and Dubai; construction in Abu Dhabi; oil trading in Kuwait; and trade and airline marketing in Kazakhstan.
He has also been elected to the governing body of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Saints and Sinners: Why Some Countries Grow Rich and Others Don’t (2013) was Ali Mahmood’s first book. He lives in Dubai.
When The Prophet Muhammad left Mecca for Medina, he had less than a hundred followers. Within a century after his death, the Muslims had conquered all the territory form the Atlantic Ocean to China, and the empire of Islam led the world in science, education, medicine, culture, commerce and war. This empire dominated the world for a thousand years. The two empires that followed after the seventeenth century were, in comparison, short-lived- the British Empire lasted for200 years and its successor, the American Empire is in decline after only sixty years.
Between the seventh and the seventeenth centuries, Muslims power shifted from the Arabs to the Persians, the Turks and the Moguls. The capital of the Islamic empire moved from the sands of Mecca and Medina to Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Cordoba and Istanbul, as new dynasties replaced the old –the Umayyad, the Abbasid, the Fatimid-Followed by Tamerlane, the world conqueror, and the three gunpowder empires- the Ottoman, the Safavid and the Mogul. The golden centuries of the world of Islam flourished while the Dark Ages made life nasty, brutish and short in Europe. The great libraries of the caliphs in Cordoba and Baghdad ran to half a million books while the great European collections did not even reach a thousand volumes. The Qanun, or Laws of Ibn Sian, dominated medicine in Europe for 500 years and Ibn Firnas demonstrated flight at the age of seventy -600 years before Da Vinci drew his sketches but never risked an actual attempt to fly.
The thousand years of the Islamic Empire were a time of great achievement, great institutions, great cities and most of all, great men. Tamerlane surpassed Alexander as a world conqueror, and Nadar Shah outclassed Napoleon who died undefeated in battle. The second Caliph, Umar and the Indian ruler Sher Shah Suri demonstrated a system of justice in which even their own sons were subjected to the law of the land. Harun al Rashid, whose court in Baghdad inspired the One Thousand and One Nights, made his nightly forays incognito into the streets of Baghdad to better understand this people and their lives. When Saladin conquered conquered Jerusalem and Balian, the Christian general reminded him of the cruelty and barbarism of the earlier Christian conquest. Saladin gently but firmly replied, ‘I am not of those men. I am Saladin.’ He gave away all that came to him as ruler and died penniless without even the money for a decent burial. Akbar the Great, of India, created an empire though he tried but failed to create a religion. Shah Abbas, the gratest Persian king created Inspahan and built the Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque, perhaps the most beautiful mosque in the world. Suuleiman the Magnificent, before whom the world trembled, was the pre-eminent sovereign in both Asia and Europe.
This remarkable era is the legacy of The Prophet, and of those he inspired to purse education, justice and the rule of law. Eauaity for all meant that merit replaced birth as the foundation of a new aristocracy and Islam gave birth to revolutionary values and attitudes that created a different type of man is willing to sacrifice and struggle for what he believed to be right, rather than blindly pursue his own selfish interests. It was these values and attitudes that helped the Muslims to reach greatness; but all good things come to an end and it was the loss of these values and attitudes that, in the seventeenth century, brought them crashing down. After one thousand years at the top, the Muslims spent 200 years at the bottom; the former masters of the universe were deprived and humiliated by their new lords from the West. They became a people without hope.
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