The adoption of Muslim culture was not always in the form of the adoption of Arabic culture. The relaxed attitude that Islam took towards various national and native cultures presented them as Islamic culture as soon as the nations concerned embraced Islam, e.g. Tartar culture, Arab, Turkish and Persian cultures soon were looked upon as the cultures of Muslim people and were therefore envied and looked upon with respect by non-Muslims societies. It is suggested that the Tartar culture (after they had embraced Islam) worked as a factor for the spread of Islam amongst the neighbouring communities: the Tartar influence in speech and manner amongst others, and the spread of their language, brought with it the moral and religious ideals of Islam; the adoption of the Tartar’s national costume was looked upon as a sign of superior culture, and if it was not followed by a person he would be the subject of being laughed at by the sophisticated and cultured people; all those cultural movements led to the ultimate adoption of Islam.[667]

It seems that Muslims’ desire and enthusiasm to encourage the Islamic culture never led them to fanaticism and disrespect for local habits, manners, customs and national or native feelings. As far as these did not contradict with basic Islamic principles they were accepted and respected; in some cases, for instance in China, the Muslims even tried their best to respect their neighbours’ feelings at the expense of their own religious feelings; they have been usually careful to avoid open exhibition of any special distinguishing features of the religious observation of their faith which may offend their fellow country-men and in some cases they have made concessions to them. To avoid offending their fellow country men they even refrained from building tall minarets, wherever they built them at all.[668] They wore local and national dress and behaved in the national manner. This could be understood better when it is compared with the Western or even Christian attitude towards natives and their customs. The establishment of Christian colonial power and Christianity itself in many areas has caused annihilation of national cultures and in some cases resulted in the destruction of the natives as in North America, Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea.

The survival of different national cultures, architectures, paintings, arts, manners and customs in various parts of the Muslim world justly shows that the spread of Islamic culture did not cause their destruction, but rather enhanced them. Islam fully supported the integration of cultures along with the integration of the society. Islam tried to intertwine its culture with the national cultures of the areas concerned, e.g. the mosques in China conform to the Chinese type of architecture, often with nothing to distinguish them from an ordinary temple or dwelling.[669] This is the case in Persia, North Africa and other parts of the world.[670] So far as national cultures or native customs did not form a kind of superstition or were not anti-Islamic they would be respected, e.g. the Muslims in China by law were obliged to prostrate themselves before the name of the Emperor or his picture, but they performed this with various expedients and reservations to avoid the imputation of idolatry and person-worship­ping.[671] The Jews and Christians, on the other hand, always showed their rejection of the national culture and were persecuted for it in China.[672] Islamic literature respects the cultural and national feelings of the people, e.g. the works of Chinese Muslims pay great respect and attention to Chinese culture or even the works of Confucius and other Chinese classics.[673]

Where no native culture existed, Islamic culture was looked upon as a sign of sophistication and cultural and intellectual progress, e.g. the pagan recruits of the army of the German East Africa often adopted Islam in order to escape ridicule and gain self-respect.[674] We have already pointed out that this was the attitude of many people towards Islamic culture especially in Muslim Spain. The cultural attraction of Islam, sometimes, in some areas, was so strong that, for example, whole tribes of fetish worshippers passed over to Islam as the result of their imitation of what they recognised to be a higher civilization and culture than their own, without any particular effort being necessary for persuading them.[675]

Not that Islamic culture always spread easily. In areas where negative traditional culture already prevailed, Islamic culture met strong resistance. In Persia, Egypt, Syria, India, China, Malaya and the Middle East strong traditional cultures had existed for thousands of years. In the areas where Christianity had established itself already, the religious culture deterred the spread of Islamic culture. Even in the areas outside these two categories some kind of native culture existed, i.e. even in the Arabian Peninsula there had already existed a tribal culture for a long time, beside the heathen culture. In fact Islamic culture met with a strong resistance even in its own birthplace. It took Islamic culture quite a long time to establish itself firmly even in areas where Islamic faith had already penetrated. In the areas where Islamic culture finally managed to establish itself and was accepted, there was always remnant of the old religious, national, tradition or native culture. In these occasions the superiority of Islamic culture helped its spread.



It not easy and even scholarly to single out the humanitarian quality and values of Islam which led to its spread because other factors, dealt with in this book, can be also looked at from a humanitarian angle and therefore regarded purely as humanitarian factors. Nevertheless there are many cases where an entirely humanitarian quality of Islam has been at work towards its success, e.g. Hindus, who for various reasons were driven out of their caste, the poor, widows and orphans who have been protected by Muslims when their husbands and parents have died or deserted them for various reasons, especially in famine, would naturally be attracted to the religion of the people they looked upon as their protectors and guardians. Hindu children adopted by Muslims on humanitar­ian grounds would be brought up in the religion of their new parents who took the responsibility for their upbringing. These cases are so many that instances of such cases of conversion are given in the census of India.[676]

The humanitarian quality of Islam not only allured individuals. It has been proved an affective factor in the mass conversion of Hindus who suffered from the inhumane conditions of the Hindu caste system. The absence of class prejudice constitutes the real strength of Islam in a society based on class and caste. Islam attracts people to its humanitarian quality of brotherhood and equality of Muslims. Freedom from class, discrimination and the disadvantages that go with the equality that Islam offers to the low and deprived classes treated as lower than animals, certainly made them change into repeated centre of revolt against degrading oppression and consequently led them to Islam. The amount and the depth of miseries suffered by classes such as Koris, Charmers (weavers, leather-cutters), the farm labourers, the animal-farm workers and the rest is beyond imagination. Many of these miserable slaves were meant only to work and provide comfort and leisure for their owners. They lived and slept with animals and were regarded as lower than beasts. For these people a change of religion was the only means to escape the appalling conditions, especially changing to a religion that provided them with equality, justice and social status.[677]

Du Halde attributes the increase in the number of Muslims mainly to humanitarian factors, e.g. the Muslim habit of looking after children with no guardians in times of famine. He states: “The Muslims have been settled for more than six hundred years in various provinces, where they lived quietly because they do not make any great efforts to spread their doctrines or gain proselytes, and because in former times they only increased in numbers by the alliances and marriages they contracted. But for several years past they have continued to make very considerable progress by means of their wealth; they buy (adopt) up heathen children (from their parents) everywhere; and the parents, being often unable to provide the children with food, have no scruples in selling them. During a famine that devastated the province of Chantong, the Muslims bought (adopted) more than 10,000 children. They marry them, and either purchase or build for them separate quarters in towns, or even whole villages; gradually in several places they gain such influence that they do not let anyone live among them who does not go to the mosque. By such means they have multiplied exceedingly during the last century.[678]

It seems that the adoption of children by Muslims in times of famine in devastated areas was a common practice. Thousands of children are reported frequently to have been adopted by the Muslim, from parents too poor to support and feed them and were willing to part with them to save them from starvation. These children, who were looked after by the Muslims and when grown Muslims married them, set up separate quarters and accommodation for them, naturally adopted the religion of their foster parents and the faith of the people to whom they owed their lives and their actual existence.[679] This humanitarian factor seems to have been effective in the areas subject to natural disaster such as China, India and Africa.

Musa, the great conqueror of Africa, devoted large sums of money, granted by the Caliph, to the purchase of captives and then set them free. These would become devoted Muslims and “Children of faith”. He did his best to improve the state of slaves and helped them with their freedom.[680]

Looking after the slaves, setting them free, purchasing from their masters to set them free as a religious duty, as it is commanded in many cases, or similar acts of good will towards them have been one of the means by which Islam spread. Freed slaves usually became very enthusiastic preachers of Islam, e.g. the Sanusi sect usually purchased slaves, educated them at Jaghabub, one of their centres for education, and then deemed sufficiently well instructed for Islam enfranchised them and sent them back to their native country to convert their brethren.[681]

It is true that usually a main factor drew the attention of non-Muslim to Islam in a certain area, era or conditions, but the combination of more than two factors of a similar kind worked in spreading Islam, e.g. in Africa, particularly in Cape Colony, one method used by Muslims to spread Islam was the adoption of neglected or abandoned children who were looked after, educated and brought up in Islam.[682] But also Islamic brotherhood and equality drew people who had suffered endlessly cruel and unjust racial and class consciousness.[683]

Islam has established or developed many humanitarian institutions: it would seem that to Islam Christendom is indebted for the foundation of lunatic asylums and for the comparatively humane treatment of the insane. The Lunatic Asylum at Cairo was founded in A.D. 1304, and it was not till more than a century afterwards that we hear of institution of the kind in Europe, and then only in that part of it which was most open to Islamic influence – I mean in Spain.[684]

As for animal care, B. Smith states: “What the legislation of last few years has at length attempted to do in the West has been long affected in the East by the moral and religious sentiment which, like almost everything that is good in that part of the world, can be traced back, in part at least, to the great prophet of Arabia”.[685]

Can anyone who recollected what the prophet did for women, slaves, orphans, the insane, the poor, the sick, children, animals, the low caste, the oppressed, Negroes, and anyone who knows also how much Islamic humanitarian institutions, rules and regulations have promoted moral and humanitarian standard and restrained vices which are still rampant in Christendom (e.g. gambling, drunkenness, adultery, etc.) deny Islamic humanitarian values as a factor in helping its spread?[686]


Islamic humanitarianism is reflected mainly in Islamic fraternity and brotherhood which is in turn reflected to some extent in the form of Islamic mysticism and Sufism. It would seem appropriate here to point out some of the services rendered by Muslim mystical orders and their members in the spread of Islam.

“By simple, popular preaching the dervishes contributed a great deal to the spread of Mohammadanism”.[687] Islam was spread to Indonesia by merchants. But the conventional view locally is that Islam was introduced by nine awliya (Saints) or hermits in ninth/fifteenth centuries.[688] “The story of Sufism, the mystic path in Islam, has much to its credit for the teaching of the Muslim faith by peaceful means and humanitarian activities in India, North Africa, and other outlying regions”.[689]

“In its very early days, Islam has crossed the frontiers of the Arabian peninsula and the Arab way of life. Persian and Turkish ideas were accommodated by the growing influence of the Sufi Mystics” and their humanitarian approach.[690]

An important factor in the growth of the Islamic community in India was the deliberate missionary activity undertaken by the Sufis.[691] These Sufis often began by identifying themselves with the beliefs and practices of the Vaishnavites; then, having persuaded the Hindus that they were sincere religious teachers, they went on to tell of a new name for the Supreme God, namely Allah, of a new Avatar named Muhammad, and of his law and way of life.[692]

Sufis also influenced Hinduism in the north of India. “Much of the Sikh and Bhakti doctrines can be attributed to the influence of Islam upon north Indian Hinduism, especially through the agency of the Sufis”.[693]

“The favourable causes of the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent has been the peaceful penetration of the country by Muslim Saints and Mystics. They could intermingle freely with the lower sections of the Indian population. Often the latter found in Muslim brotherhood a happy refuge from the rigid cast taboo”.[694] “The Sufis became actively engaged in missionary-type activities and propagandist^ preachings in most of the lands of Islam. Particularly in the safer confines of the periphery…”.[695] There are geographical areas in the world of Islam where only mysticism and sufism worked as the main instrument in spreading Islam. “Sufi Islam attracted the Berber because it tolerated his animistic proclivities. To the Berber convert the Shaykh was not much unlike his ‘holy man’ who was alleged to possess magical power”.[696] Sufi Islam also gained converts amongst Christians, for the Sufi looks upon man as the incarnation of God, but he does not accept the idea of an incarnate God as in Christianity.

Indeed, in many cases Islam did not establish itself in earnest until it was associated with Sufism; the zeal of Sufi brethren like the Tijaniyyah and Qadiriyyah is responsible for keeping Islam on the move in many parts of Africa.[697] The Amir Ghaniyya order also played a significant part in furthering Islam.

As mentioned before, it is also Sufism that has given Islam in India its original growth, its extension and its depth. It possessed all the fine properties and spiritual assets for a proper adaptation to the Indian atmosphere so much inclined to meditation and asceticism. The maxim of Sufi missionaries was “Sulh al-Kull” (peace with all: inclusive peace). In particular the Chishti order understood how to assimilate Indian conditions.[698]

It is also suggested that Sufism was instrumental in the conversion of Turkish tribes among whom its influence consequently was greater than that of orthodox Islam.[699] The importance of Sufism in Islam and its spread was so great that it was felt by Al-Ghazali that a reconciliation of sufism and Islamic orthodoxy had to be made. Henceforward Sufi orders were naturally and consequently assigned to the special function of missionary work both in the cities and countryside. Everywhere Sufi converts were founded simultaneously with madrasas, and on the whole the leaders of both wings co­operated in spreading Islam and its teachings.[700] In cases when and where Islamic Sufism, its orders and their members were the favourite champions of Islamic missionary activities amongst the masses, Islam spread rapidly.

Islamic mysticism and sufism has also worked as an intellectual factor in attracting intellectuals of other religions to Islam. Probably this aspect of Islam is doing better than other Islamic approaches in making new converts in modem times.[701] On the whole, the Sufi movement was based on a popular appeal and popular foundation; but it also worked as an intellectual, humanitarian, literary and spiritual factor, spreading Islam almost in all areas and eras in both the eastern and western lands of Islam. Sufi movements and orders have always possessed a missionary spirit. Sufis were more prepared to undertake missionary missions and it was easier for them to mix with non-Muslims without formality and difficulty. Sufi teachers and disciples travelled far and wide in pursuit of their missionary work.

Much of the work of conversion was carried on by the Sufi brotherhood during the second great wave of Islamic spread in Central Asia, India, Indonesia and Africa.[702] The people in this area were either wholly animistic, like negroes and the Turks, or else animistic with an overlay of Hinduism, as in India, Sumatra or Java. Sufism, therefore, seemed more appealing to them. This in spite of the fact that Islam since its coming to existence has been closely engaged in the struggle with animism and the superstitions which are associated with it.[703] It was the wide vogue of mysticism, far more than formal theology, that enabled Islam to survive the appalling catastrophe of the Mongol Invasion”.[704]

hi the nineteenth century the activities of the Muslim brotherhoods (Turuq) in East Africa gave very efficient help to organized Islam, and not only in the field of religious culture. Some brotherhoods arrived in Ethiopia from Sudan; the Mir Ghaniyya Tariqa, which has its major establishments in Eritrea; the Tijaniyya, diffused in South Western Ethiopia (founded by Ahmad al-Tijani in Algeria, in the region of Oran); and the Sammaniyya, established in the eighteenth century by Muhammad al-Samman, a mystic born in Medina who emigrated to the Sudan. Other powerful brotherhoods had entered Ethiopia from Arabia through Hara: the Qadiriyya Tariqa, one of the most ancient Islamic brotherhoods, founded by Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in Baghdad; and the Ahmadiyya Tariqa, established by the Yamani mystic Ahmed b. Idris in the first half of the nineteenth century. These last two brotherhoods, Qadiriyya and Ahmadiyya, also have their Zaviyat in Somalia, where are found establishments of the Salihiyya Tariqa, a movement born with the Ahmadiyya but a separate body with full independ­ence, and Rifaiyya.[705]

The revival and expansion of Islam in West Africa in the nineteenth century was inspired by the Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya Tariqas. The Qadirriyya spread first and peacefully, teaching in Muslim and pagan regions.[706] The Tijaniyya prospered in West Africa and led to conversion. Explaining the role of Sufis and Sufi orders in spreading Islam D. Macdonald states: “I have already said the nearest approach that Islam has produced to the professional missionary is the wandering dervish – saints. The border lands of Islam are full of them. It is they through whose labours Africa has so nearly become a Muslim continent. Into the recesses of Asia they have gone with their teaching. Theirs is the religious romance and the reality of the spread of Islam”.[707]

The Negro’s propensity for the symbolic, esoteric, and the mystic renders him receptive to the Sufi way. He is intrigued by the Sufi path and often is lured into embracing Islam by it. He finds a certain compatibility between the animistic feelings and the sufistic practices. Sufism indeed has remained one of the great magnets for Islam in Africa.[708]

The African proclivity for the mystical way is abetted by the Muslim Sufis, which would explain why the two principle orders of Tijaniyyah and Qadiriyyah have been successful in the propagation of Islam in Africa. Here the ground has been adequately prepared by animism. Mystical communication with God and its attending fetish touches a sensitive familiar chord in the African heart.[709]



“Islam was born when the two great Empires of the Near and Middle East had exhausted one another in a long series of wars. The Byzantines were hated by their Semitic and Coptic subjects because of their oppressive taxations and their persecution of the heretic churches. They were, after all, interlopers in the Semitic world, heirs of a different culture and languages. The situation in the Persian Empire was somewhat similar. Many rivals to the Zoroastri-anism of the state raised their heads and were kept down only by an army of mercenaries whose loyalty was seldom above suspicion. Thus neither of the great powers of the time was in a position to offer an effective resistance to the new enemy. Their border-lands were inhabited by people sympathetic to the Arabs, people who had groaned for years under the tyranny and desired only to be rid of it. The Christianity common to the Orthodox and the Monophysites in the Byzantine sphere was no longer a binding force, and in the Persian sphere the Christian population had little or nothing to lose by a change of masters. As soon as the money which had commanded the services of the Arab frontier guards was withdrawn, this powerful striking force threw in its lot with the newcomers”.[710]

Apart from faraway China, there were no great powers at the beginning of the seventh century which were at all comparable to Byzantine and Persia. These two great states were bitter rivals and were constantly either at war or engaged in a commercial or diplomatic struggle for supremacy. The state religion of Byzantium was Christianity, that of Persia Zoroastrianism.

It was at one time fashion and it still is, to state that the weakness of these two Empires, due to their long struggle against each other, and not Muslim faith and strength, was responsible for the great Arab conquest. It should be explained that first of all the spread of Islam is a completely different subject from that of Arab conquest. Secondly, the Arab conquests is also different from that of the Muslim Conquests. Thirdly, both these two great Empires still had long warlike traditions and well-equipped professional armies which had received thorough tactical training and were fully armed and equipped. Fourthly, the majority of the Arabs in those days were tribesmen, looked down upon as uncivilized by the sophisticated Persians and Byzantines. They had no states, no government and no army and those in the frontier between the two great empires were satellites of Persia and Byzantium. These and many more facts leave us no choice but to accept that it was the Arabs’ faith and conviction which made the greatest miracle of history possible. They were convinced that they were struggling to establish the truth and the power of truth made them powerful. In fact, Zoroastrians and Christians were no match for Muslims, for only the Muslims were convinced that they were the true believers in God. The Romans and Persians rules and Christian and Zoroastrian religions were working together and they alike were doomed wherever the Muslims and Islam penetrated. The peoples of the area concerned put up no resistance to the Muslims and Islam, for they thought that neither their armies nor their religions were worth fighting for. In the Byzantine territory of North Africa, the Arab General Qobat Ibn Nafi at the head of 400 horsemen, with a supply train of 400 camels carrying 800 goatskins of water in only five months completed the Arab victory over Byzantium.[711] In the east too, the Arabs soon became Muslim armies. After the time of Abu Muslim the Arab tribes vanished from the pages of the history of eastern Iran and Central Asia.[712]

And so, within a space of fifty years almost eight centuries of European rule and colonization of North Africa came to a sudden end and the Christian religion ended with it. Christianity in Africa built over seven centuries was overthrown within a few decades by the new religion of Islam. It was the same in the Persian Empire. The Persian Empire and Zoroastrianism built over a thousand years were overthrown within a few decades too. It is clear from the reports of the historians that the Arabs had no difficulty in overthrowing the kings and Empires and establishing themselves. The Arabs’ victory over the two great empires is one of the puzzles of history. It is the Muslims’ success, in the face of their strong enemies and their own military weakness that has made them the subject of jealousy and accusation.

Although there is no evidence for organised religious proselytizing in the early period of the spread of Islam, conversion to Islam on a large scale due to religious, political and other reasons was very common. Baladhuri tells us that after the Battle of al-Qadisiyya some 4,000 troops of Persian imperial guard joined the Muslim army.[713] He also tells an interesting story of the conversion of a large group of Sasanian Cavalry.[714]

People are under the influence of those in power. Infact the Persians, cavalry, army and civilians, seem to have been attracted to Islam rather than being converted to it. They have viewed conversion to Islam in the light of variousadvantages, particularly religious, military and social, political, attached to conversion to Islam. Basra and Kufa grew in size as people flocked to the two military camps to join the Muslim cause. “While there is no evidence that the Muslim armies actively tried to make conversions, it appeared that the Caliph ‘Umar was already seeking to restrict conversion to Islam only to Arabs. One tradition claims that he stopped the victorious Arabs from invading the Iranian Plateau after the Battle of ‘Jalula’ because he did not wish to convert Persians to Islam”.[715] The Muslim leaders usually had second thoughts about conversion. At first, the Muslim armies apparently needed and welcomed extra support, but it is difficult to believe that they welcomed all kinds of conversion for any kind of motive.[716] However, nothing and nobody discouraged genuine conversion.


a) BALANCE BETWEEN RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR AFFAIRS IN ISLAM A scholar has explained this balance as follows:[717]

Islam is World-affirmative. The world, or space-time, is good. It was not created in vain, or in sport, but for a good purpose, namely the fulfilment of Divine Will.[718] hi as mich divine will is value, or the good, and because its fulfilment is its concretization or actualization in space-time, the final objective of Islam is not extrinsic to this world but in and of it. Islam doesnotregard the finalrealizationofthe absolute as something that will take place outside the space-time, after this world has come to a cataclysmic end. On the contrary, it regards that realization as taking place in this world. The metaphysics of the ethics of Islamis not a theory of salvation, of deliverance from a predicament. Unlike Christianity and the religion of India, Islamneverregarded itself as areligion of redemption. Rather, its morality is one ofthe active realization of doing, and the works in space-time. Islam consists of conviction and action (ImanwaAmal. Aqidat was Sharia). It is symptomatic ofthe whole religious view of Islam that its terminology has no word such as save or salvation, a concept in which the Subject, God, is active and the object, man, is passive. Here, the onlytermlslam uses is falah (felicity) or the verb aflaha (to become felicitous), which is a thoroughly active concept, hi his existence, man is the sole subj ect ofhis ownfalah, and a p assive form of the verb has never been used in scripture and is hardly known in religious literature. Obviously, then, there is for Islam something yet greater than the greatest good, that is, that very good is realized in the world. Indeed, the ethic of Islam is so activistic that it often regarded the sunnum bonum an idle dream unless it was walking on the ground of history.

“Thus, Islam is this-worldly inasmuch, firstly, it teaches no escape and no deliverance fiom this world, not even on the Day of Judgement. Secondly, it is affirmative of this-World inasmuch as it seeks religious felicity in actions that transform the human and other creatures of the world without altering their humanity, without loss to their this-worldliness, and with the continuation of the world as a general ethical desideratum.

But if this world is to continue and to be preserved, though transformed, without loss of anthological identity, into something other than it presently is or was at Creation, it must be good, and its goodness must be of essence. Though imperfect and standing still to be perfected by man, God’s “vicegerent” on Earth, this world cannot be in itself evil.

In contrast to Christianity and Indian religions, both men and this world received from Islam credentials of innocence. Both exist and subsist on sufferance, not merely as of right but as a highly moral, ethically-conditioning good. In Islam those who believe and do good are the saved, and felicitous and those who violently repel the orphan, who do not urge the feeding of the deprived, who are oblivious to what they say in prayer, the pretenders, who stand in the way of assistance to the needy are the damned.[719] Islam then anchors its moral ideal not in faith in the transcendent, not in the realm outside space-time, but on “doing the good” here and now, realizing the demands of social justice here and now. Hence complete harmony and balance between religious and temporal affairs in Islam.

The content of the moral imperative of Islam is of this world because all that is of this world is declared the work of God designed and fashioned for man’s service and enjoyment. God gave man of himself a spouse, woman, that he may find quiescence in her and ordained between them love and affection. He created the elements and ordered them into a stretched-out earth with mountains, rivers, fruits of all sorts and pairs of all creatures; into day wherein to see and night wherein to find rest, and in both to reckon months and years; into seas and oceans in which ships bring the world together for their mutual benefit, into cloud and rain that resurrect the earth after a scorching death, into an earth cultivable, producing food and grapes, and dates of a many a variety, grain and olives, gardens and orchards – all for man’s enjoyment and benefit. He created all the creatures of the world that man may have therein his sustenance, pleasure and utility; horses and beasts of burden, for his comfort. Indeed, God gave man the whole earth for inheritance, to live and to enjoy. In the long run of history, he increases this enjoyment as the reward of virtue, privation and denial of this bounty is the reward of evil, “the promise of satan” as the Quran calls it.[720] The Quran, indignantly asks,”who dared to forbid man the enjoyment of his things of beauty, of the delicacies of food, of raiment and other good things of God’s bounty? [721]It commands the prophet, “teach that these things all belong to this earth to those who are faithful…Teach that God forbids only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are hidden. He forbids sin and wrongful oppression”.[722]

The balance and harmony between spiritual yearnings, needs and satisfaction and those of this world not only attracted people to Islam in its early history butcontinues to do so in modern times. One idea in the recent research about Islam is so common that it seems worthwhile to single it out. It was well put by Mohammad Asad in a recent book. Mohammad Asad was born a Jew in Europe (Austria) and he was converted to Islam. His attitude expresses the modern impatience with asceticism and finds in Islam the satisfaction of spiritual yearnings without the necessity to renounce the satisfaction of those of this world. Islam, for him, is the religion of the body and the spirit in one; this is not just a matter of personal morals, but, for example, of social teaching also.[723]

He believes that Christianity is other-worldly and, therefore, lacks social teaching; in this respect, he is at one with Lenin.[724] He also thinks that Islam is intellectual in content, although requiring emotion in the subjective reaction of the believer, but that in Christianity the teaching itself is emotional, relying on a sense of numinous awe..

In our present-day, both the capitalists and the Communist camps suffer from a conflict between the right of the individual and the right of the community. Whereas Capitalist Societies protect the individual and his rights, often pushing this so far as to surpass on communal welfare, Communist countries almost disregard the individuality of the individual for the sake of society as a whole. The results of both are far from satisfactory.

The so-called “Free World” boasts of political freedom and freedom of thought and expression, yet under the banner of private enterprise such perversion as greed and selfishness have become acceptable. Freedom to become rich has often added to the miseries of the poor. Freedom of thought has often been converted into freedom to pollute thought. As people become more material-minded, they become less and less God-guided. The result is an unhappy society.

When we turn to communist societies, the scene is even worse. Individuals are but the bricks used for a building. Society looks like a beehive or an ant colony – very active, very disciplined. In this atmosphere, a sign of individuality is looked upon as political opposition. Since the conception of God is non-existence, it is difficult to imagine any source from which values such as conscience, love, self-restraint and charity can drive. The inevitable result is also an unhappy society.

It seems that both sides have been willing to reconsider their systems. The Communist camp has had to permit some kinds of private ownership in despair but finally collapsed. In Capitalist Countries it has been found inevitable to impose certain limitation on the absolute rights of the individuals: rising taxation, state ownership, the welfare State, for example. The demise of communism has proved its unacceptability. Capitalism can follow suit.

The ideal ratio of individual to communal interest has not yet been found. Against this background, it may be asked how Islam views this question. It is interesting to note that the views here given are derived from the theories of Communism and Capitalism. The religion of Islam as conveyed by the Prophet Muhammad is nearly fourteen hundred years old.

The communal and individual viewpoints have been so blended in Islam that it is difficult to separate them. Fraternity and love are the cement which binds various individuals to form a society. In the Prophet’s own words: “the faithful are to one another like (parts of) a building – each part strengthening the others”. And “the faithfuls in their mutual compassion, sympathy and love are exemplified by the whole body. If one of its organs falls ill, the remainder will suffer”.[725]

The Quran has regarded the murder of a single person as the onslaught of the society. “He who has killed a person has, in fact, killed the humanity” and “that all the believers are brothers”.[726] The Prophet is reported to have said “None of you can be a believer unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself’. Avoiding extremism both right and left, Islam tries to follow the Middle Course and the straight path and to establish a balance between extreme socialism and individualism and thus presenting itself as the third way: “Ummat Wasat”.

Islam’s attempt to establish the balance between these two is not reflected only in Islamic Moral System and these ideals are not merely of ethical values. They are legally implemented, for Islam brought with it a legal system. The entire religion of Islamisbased onbalance, hence called itself the “Middle Course” and”Straight Way”. The teachings of Islam bear a dual nature.

It must be borne in mind that Islamic liberalism which balances socialism and individualism (balance between them) differs fundamentally from dialectical materi­alism which has produced both communism and capitalism, of extremism of right and left. Islamic “Middle Course” of “Straight Way” is deeper and broader than materialism in the form of communism and capitalism because it covers both the moral, spiritual, mental needs and material, physical and secular aspects of the individual and society and provides a more comprehensive philosophy and outlook for the entire life. Islamic philosophy and outlook here is not a compromise between communism and capitalism. Nothing is further from the truth than this. Both communism and capitalism are based on dialectical materialism which is completely rejected by Islam. Islam is above these two.[727] It is, in fact, an independent “Third International Theory” because it rejects both materialist communism and capitalism. These qualities and balances have provided Islam with resilience and dynamism.


Islam’s inner capacity for renewal has more than once surprised both friend and foe. When conquerors invaded Muslim lands Islam found the power to win them to her fold. It has at various times raised up reformers to rekindle the light of faith when it had grown dim.[728] It has a better chance than other faiths and ideology of holding and extending its power over the hearts and wills of men. This is probably why it survived and flourished in spite of the upsurge of Christian missionary ardour, so militant, so dogmatic, so narrow-minded in many of its manifestations, which led to the revival of the aggressive hostility to Islam in Europe after the disappearance of old hostility based on fear of Muslim power after the decline of the Turkish Empire, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. There are a few European observers who were prepared to argue that Islam was areligionbetter adopted than Christianityto act as acivilizing agent inBlackAfricaforitsdynamism. ThemosteloquentEnglishadvocateofthisnotionwasthe freelance traveller, Winwood Reade, who first visited West Africa in the early 1860’s and saw in Casamance area of Senegambia, African pagans and Muslims living side by side. ” The first are drunkards, gamblers, swine as diseased in body as debased in mind…”[729]

It was hardly surprising to find that a good many Europeans working in Tropical Africa began to develop a bias in favour of those African peoples most affected by the culture of Islam. The Muslim African was recognised as far “superior” to the “savage” and preferable too in the opinion of some Europeans, to the “trousered nigger”, the productof the mission schools of the coast.[730] CF R.F. Burton remarks “the Christian converts of Sierra Leone, male and female are the most demoralized race I know in Africa.[731] On the contrary, in East Africa Interior, Muslims regarded themselves and were seen as “special people”. They were known as Waungawana or “civilised persons” as against African infidels.[732] At the Courts of Takrur, Ghana, Mali, Songhay, Kanem-Bornu and those of the Hausa city-states, Islam was recognised as the religion of men of dynamism, of cosmopolitan outlook…Kings, proceed in state to the Friday prayer, went on pilgrimage and honoured those learned in Islamic law and theology”.[733]


The ulama, heirs of the prophets (warathat al-anbiyya) as Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, described them, have always played a pivotal role in Islam. Following the central Quranic principle of ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the evil’ they have remained the custodians of the faith and the watchful guarantors of justice and moral rectitude in Islamic policy.

But as the era of the Khulafa al-rashidoon came to an abrupt end with the martyrdom of Imam Ali, and as Islamic polity moved away from the lofty Quranic principles of shura and accountability to absolute dynastic rule, it became increasingly harder for the ulama to maintain their responsibilities. Many ulama caved in under the weight of the temporal power of the Ummayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid khulafa/sultans. But there were others who fully embodied Allah’s words: ‘Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah: of them some have completed their vow (to the end) and some still wait. But they have never changed (their determination in the least)’ (33:23)

Muslim history is replete with exceptionally courageous ulama who boldly stood in the face of tyranny, some including Imams such as Abu Hanifa, Zaid Ibn Ali Ibn Zain al-Abideen and Siad Ibn Jubair paid with their lives. Others such as Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal endured long years of imprisonment and torture, without compromising their beliefs and their defence of the faith. Shaikh Izzaddin Ibn Abdusalam and his student Nawawi are among those who succeeded in bringing down to earth mighty soverigns while Baybars, for instance, the Mamluk sultan of Egypt and Syria, had an outstanding record in the defence of Islam from the Mongols.

In an era, not unlike that of today, when corrupt sultans were forming ignominious alliances with the enemies of Islam, Shaikh Izziddin became the first Muslim Alim to stand up to a despotic and powerful ruler. At that time the court ulama were more than ready to issue fatwas justifying their treachery; Shaikh Izziddin was born in 577 AH in Damascus and died in Cairo in 660 AH. His long lifespan – he died at the age of 83 – witnessed some of the most tragic tribulations in Muslim history including the fall of Baghdad to the Mongol hordes of Hulagu and the subsequent butchering of most of Baghdad’s population. During the massacre the last Abbasid khalifah Al-Mu’tasim and his entire court and family were wiped out. Some of the Islam’s brilliant triumphs over its enemies also occurred then.

In the routing of the hitherto invincible Mongol army at the battle of Ain Jalut in 657, Shaikh Izziddin was the moving spiritual force behind the campaign that led to victory. He was also a first-class jurist and scholar. His contemporary, Shaikh Ibn al-Hajib, the doyen of the Maliki scholars in Damascus at the time, described him as ‘the most accomplished jurist since al-Ghazzali’. He is best rememberedfor his incomparable courage in confronting corrupt and tyrannical rulers. Armed only with his faith in his Lord, and unwavering stance against the excesses of otherwise good rulers, he constitutes one of the most brilliant example ofulama’s resistance to tyranny and the defeat of the enemies of Islam.

Shaikh Izziddin came to prominence in Damascus when the Ayyubids, the descend­ants of the great Salah al-Din, al-Ayyubi, were the rulers of both Egypt and Syria. The crusaders, though crushed at Hattin, and chased out of Quds by Salah al-Din in 582 AH were still clinging to some positions in Syria and the Palestinian coast. A descendant of Salah al-Din Assalih Ismail, ascended Syria’s throne as a junior partner of his nephew Assalih Najmaddin Ayyub, the sultan of Egypt, Ismail was a man fond of wine and women with a soft spot for expensive artifacts. Aware of his shortcomings, the lurking crusaders and Mongols deluged him with precious gifts, even slipping into his entourage pretty maidens whose task it was to spy on him.
Realizing that the rot was spreading through this important citadel of Ayyubid power, the crusaders in alliance with the Mongols, started planning the capture of Egypt, Syria and Palestine, particularly Quds. Sultan Najmaddin Ayyub responded to the crusader-Mongol threat by fully mobilizing his forces and fortifying Egypt’s defences. He also contacted his uncle Assalih Ismail of Damascus alerting him to prepare for the impending crusaders attack. But Ismail was too busy exchanging presents with the enemy, and sultan Najmaddin was forced to send an expedition to join Syria and Egypt; Ismail quickly allied himself with the crusaders promising to cede the city of Sidon, the far Qashif and other Muslim territories to them. Worse still, he opened the gates of Damascus’s arms market, considered to be one of the best in the world at the time, to them.

Shaikh Izziddin and the Muslim population were shocked and saddened at the prospect of European crusaders, Islam’s implacable enemies, buying the celebrated Damascene swords and other weaponry with which to slaughter Muslims, Shaikh Izziddin immediately issued a fatwa declaring the sale of arms to the crusaders unlawful under the Shari’ah further saying that whoever sold to them has betrayed Allah, His Messenger and the Ummah. Moreover, he mounted the pulpit of the Ummayyad Mosque and denounced the actions of the sultan. He also issued along with his colleague Shaikh Ibn al-Hajib another fatwa, confirming the treachery of the sultan and calling for his deposition. This led to a revolt in the city, upon which the sultan ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Shaikh Izziddin. But this only increased the scale of the uprising.

Sultan Ismail released the shaikh on condition that he leave Damascus, so Shaikh Izziddin moved to Egypt. But the sultan feared that news of his treachery would spread when the shaikh arrived in Egypt so he sent him a message promising that he would be restored to his position as chief qadi if he returned and kissed the sultan’s hand. Shaikh Izziddin told the sultan’s envoy: ‘I will not allow Ismail to kiss my hand let alone kiss his! Return to him my boy. He and I are valleys apart’, hi Egypt Shaikh Izziddin was warmly received by Sultan Assalih Najmaddin Ayyub who appointed him khatib to Jami’ Azhar Mosque as well as the qadi of Cairo and Upper Egypt. But he continued to speak his mind whenever he saw people including the sultan himself misbehaving.

On Eid day the sultan put on a sumptuous show with troops in armour arrayed before him and princes kissing the ground before him. Najmaddin was brought down to earth when shaikh’s admonishing voice addressed him by his simple first name devoid of all his honorific titles: ‘O Ayyub what will be your argument in front of Allah if He asked you, “had not I caused the kingship of Egypt to be yours and yet you made wine ‘lawful'”? The astounded sovereign asked: ‘Did that actually happen’? ‘Yes’, replied the shaikh and he named the wine shops in question. The sultan then said: ‘These are from the time of my father’, upon which the shaikh replied: ‘Are you of those who say we found our fathers on [that] path? The powerful sultan had no choice but to relent and order the closure of the wine shops. Later Shaikh Izziddin told one of his students: ‘I brought the Majesty of Allah in my heart and the sultan appeared to me weaker than a cat’.

Shaikh Izzaddin’s Jihad was not confined to verbal confrontations. He also fought with his sword when the crusaders stormed Damietta (Dimyat) in Egypt in 616 AH. Although advanced in age he participated in the campaign which resulted in their resounding defeat and the capture of their leader King Loius IX of France. But as soon as the threat was over Egypt, now the strongest Muslim State, faced an even more formidable menace: the Mongol hordes who had succeeded in overrunning Iraq and parts of Syria and who were now heading for Egypt. Stories of their military prowess and brutality filled the people with fear. But Shaikh Izzaddin bravely called for jihad against these fearsome enemies of Islam.

The ulama met the princes, military commanders and other nobles to discuss what to do. The authorities proposed to levy taxes to finance the military campaign. All agreed with the proposal, but Shaikh Izziddin surprised them by saying: ‘You can impose taxes only when the State treasury (bait al-mal) is exhausted and only after the Mamluk princes sell all their precious jewellery, and all their equipment inlaid with gold and only when they stand on an equal footing with the common people’. His words were heeded and the Muslim army under Sultan Qutz and his distinguished commander Baybars defeated the Mongols at Ain Jalut in 657.

Such was the influence of Shaikh Izziddin that when he finally died virtually all Egypt came to his funeral. Baybars, who had replaced sultan Qutz, remarked: ‘Only now has my kingdom stabilized. Had this shaikh ordered the people to depose me they would have hurried to implement his order.


The traditional, popular held view of Islam is one of male dominance, basing itself, ultimately, on the Quran (4:34). Islam cannot however lay claim to particularly, much less exclusivity, in this respect: most societies are male-dominated, not just Islamic societies but Christian and Confuscian as well, hi countries where the Salic Law operates, e.g., France, a woman could not succeed to the throne. The Salic Law also operated in Spain right down to the mid-19th century, when it was set aside to permit the accession of Isabel II. Confucian societies are examples of male domination, since Confuscius believed that the State should model itself on the family, where the paterfamilias stands in a position of undisputed authority. Yet, even in Confucius’s country exceptions abound, for, in China, that land of masterful women, there havebeen many female rulers. The closest parallel in Islamic terms to China is the case of the Afghans, who likewise tend to produce women of strong character. In fact, a close scrutiny of Islamic history reveals that there have been just as many women rulers in Islam as in Europe; in British history there were only four, Queen Elizabeth, Mary queen of Scots, Queen Ann and Queen Victoria, whereas in Indian history there were Chand Bibi, Razia Sultana and Nur Jehan (in whose name the coinage was minted) plus the four queens of Bhopal.

In spite of the principle of male dominance enshrined in Christian society, stemming from the fact that Jesus ordained only men, several of the greatest sovereigns in Europe have been women; by contrast, in that society predominantly dominated by women, the US, there is not a single woman president in the history of the country. European history offers several examples of women rulers who also happen to be, in some cases, among the best rulers their countries have produced; e.g., England: Elizabeth and Victoria. The latter’s wise policies of family alliances helped keep the peace in Europe for a century, from 1815 down to 1914, and only broke down when a malevolent incompetent like Edward VII ascended the throne. To these must be added Maria Theresa, Austria’s greatest ruler, Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Lusia, the queen of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. All these figures were among the wisest and best rulers of their times.

Their achievements may seem to eclipse comparable cases in Islam; but attention to Islamic history discloses that there have been as many women rulers in Islam, perhaps even more: Arwa bint al-Mukarram as-Sulaihiyya in the 11th century, Shajarat ad-Durr in Egypt, Queen Abish in Iran and Razia Sultana in India – all in the 13th century – and Gauhar Shad, the Timurid empress, in the 15th century and Nur Jahan in the 17th. To these must be added the four Begums of Bohpal, plus several sultanas in the Malay Archipelago.

It would seem therefore that the presence of women rulers in the history of a country has less to do with religion that with the race, -or temperament, since all these cases cited, both eastern and western, were forceful characters.

In fact, a close scrutiny of the Quran and the traditions do not reveal any clear position on the matter, for or against. Here a sharp distinction must be made between the requirements laid down by the Shari’ah for the khalifah and those for the head of State (sultan). The two are by no means the same thing: the word sultan(a) denotes delegated authority, delegated by the khalifah; (i.e., properly constituted authority) can denote independent authority. Of the numerous sultanates in Dar al-Islam now a few have come under feminine rule. The prerequisites for a khalifah are laid down by the Shari’ah but there has never been a female khalifah, whereas there have been numerous female sultanas. It is important that this distinction be grasped.

The distinction apart, the sole theological justification for claiming that Islam does not allow women to be head of state is the hadith, ‘wa lam yuflahu qaum wal amrahum imara’ ah’ (a people shall not prosper whose affairs are in the hands of a woman’). This hadith is classified as da’if (weak, of unsound transmission). As against this, we have testimony of the Quran itself, where in Surah 27, Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala speaks of Bilqis, the queen of Sheba, in favourable terms. Had feminine governance been repugnant to God it would be reasonable to expect that some indication of its unacceptability would have been introduced at this point in the narrative; but the Quran contains no such indication, explicit or implicit. That Muslims were aware of this, at least in the past, is clear from the epitaph on the grave of Gauhar Shad in Herat, where she is referred to as ‘the Bilqis of the age’.

Throughout Muslim history women have played a notable role in Islamic affairs, including the Prophet’s own time and that of the Sahabah. Some of these women were warriors: in Arab tribal traditions a woman would march in front of an army, urging the men to greater feats by taunting them. One Sahabiyyah who took part in the Prophet’s wars, not by taunting but actually bearing arms and participating in combat was Sulaim bint Malham. Nor was she alone, hi the wars between the Muslims and the Byzantine forces there was a tall knight, dressed entirely in black. When she unvaried, people were startled to discover that the ‘knight’ was a woman, Khawlah bint al-Azwar al-Kindiyyah. She was taken prisoner by the Byzantines at the battle of Sablunah near Damascus but managed to break out of where she was being held and, along with other female captives, fought her way to freedom.

Their precedent has been followed throughout Islamic history. In the Mughol empire the role of Joshanara Begum was crucial in settling the succession dispute in favour of Aurangzeb and against Dara Shikoh. No less important was the political role of Jehanara Begum, who acted as liaison between the reigning monarch, Aurangzeb, and the deposed emperor, Shah Jehan; Jehanara was also a Sufi belonging to the Qadiriyya tariqah, and author of two books on tasawwuf, one of them an unfinished biography of her pir, and a poetess to boot. The epitaph she wrote for her simple grave, beside that of Amir Khausrau at Nizam ad-Din Auliya’ in Delhi, expresses the humility of the true Sufi. Her greatest memorial is however the Mosque of Agra, the largest erected in the subcontinent between Akbar’s Mosque at Fatehpur Sikri and the building of the Jami’a Mosque at Delhi by her father, Shah Jehan. Unlike these two enterprises, the cost of whose erection was defrayed from the State treasury, the Agra Mosque was paid for out of Jehanara Begum’s own pocket, for she met the cost of erection out of the revenue from her own lands. With its bold, chevroned domes the Agra Mosque is altogether different in design from the Jami’a Mosque of Delhi and all subsequent mosques which took the Delhi building for a model, such as the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore. Her Sufi affiliation recalls the case of that of other great Suffiyya, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, whose poetry expressive of the love of God is among the most beautiful in Arabic literature. We know how committed the Sufis were to the cause of spreading Islam.

Mention of Rabi’a should remind one that women have always held a special place in Sufism, specially in the Bektashiyyah tariqah. Indeed the role of women resisted the secular reforms of Mustafa Kemal when all too many men succumbed to the spurious charms of modernism. They kept the faith alive inside the home by means of certain rituals and so transmitted the iman to the next generation, thereby ensuring its survival, hi a famous hadith, the Prophet said that ‘the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman’. One of the best known examples of a virtuous woman is Bibi Hafiz Jamal, the daughter of Khwajah Mu’inuddin Chisti, the founder of the Chistiyyah tariqah. Bibi Hafiz is one of the very few examples of a female pir in the history of Sufism. Normally, a woman can only be a murid, not a murshid, but Bibi Hafiz was allowed to have murid, who took the bai’ah to her in the manner normally reserved for men.[734]


If Muslims, rightly, deplore the western experiment with power, can they rightly justify their own? Is imperialism always immoral? Are there different styles of colonialism, the question of their legitimacy an open one?

A remark about the Quranic mandate for power and conquest may begin the debate. At the beginning of sacred history, man is offered the trust (amanah) of the heavens and the earth which he foolishly accepts (33:72). Despite the temporary reservations of the angels and the permanent reservations of the devil, man is appointed Allah’s deputy (khalifah) on earth. But he is to assume rulership over nature on condition that he himself accepts rulership under Allah. The right to be an imperialist in the created order is conditional on the duty to be a servant to God and other men. (Hence, incidentally, the second caliph’s retort, ‘Who is more a slave than I?’ when asked why he had not sent one of his servants to trace a stray camel).

Apart from the early wars in the time of the Prophet, most of the conflicts during the reigns of the four caliphs were for conquests – to make Islam prevail worldwide as the decisive religion whose final victory was ordained by final revelation. This extension of the witness to the greatness of Allah beyond the strict confines of the Jazirat al-Arab is these days seen as standing in need of elaborate apology. What right had the Arabs, fired with the febrile enthusiasm of their faith, to carry Islamic enterprise into distant lands east and west? Muslim pride in these phenomenal and enduring triumphs must reckon with the sceptical verdict that asks ‘is only other nations’ imperialism immoral?”

I return briefly to the stance of scripture. The ruler receives the right to be a ruler on condition that he remains accountable as a servant. Many a leader will be tempted to doubt or deny this double status. The Quran is always at hand as a reminder that authority is given and bestowed, not acquired by force or inheritance. Any reading of human autonomy which dispenses with Allah as sovereign is anathema to the religion of Prophet Muhammad, the warrior-prophet (al-nabi al-malhama), upon whom be peace.

The 5OOth anniversary of the fall of Muslim Spain is the best possible occasion to settle ‘the imperialist question’. Where European colonial rule impresses us as grand and regal, clothed in the mystique of arbitrary pride, Islamic rule, when free of worldly ambition, stands as a robust witness for a different style of sovereignty in which pride of rulership is founded on the humility of service.

Where one dominates, one brings submission (Islam) too. As with nature, so with politics: the Muslim scientist who studies nature as a causal system also visits the mosque as a humble penitent. Understand the natural world in order that you might give thanks to its Creator: rule the social world in order that you might serve the King of kings – a title blasphemously appropriated by the shah of Iran.

If there be political humility in postures of power, there can be no room for the usual sources of hubris; the ethnic pride in land or national allegiance, the mundane pride of successful establishment, the imperial pride of sheer strength without the account­ability and the Semitic pride of exclusive covenant. The new community, the Ummah Muslimah was to be a multi-lingual society of peoples, based on the revolutionary principle of freely-chosen belief in one God. The arbitrary circumstances of nation­hood, necessarily an accident of birth for the maj ority of citizens, was rej ected in favour of a radical view of human nature as monogenetic. What peoples and tribes believed became the factor that decided allegiance and conferred imperial citizenship. The new commonwealth was not multi-racial, a fraud of course, for there is only one race, the human race. Rather it was multi-lingual, even multi-civilizational, while being explicitly mono-ideological. The group that coalesced around the figure of the Arab Apostle was one distinguished and set apart from the rest of mankind by its intensely shared vision of a tolerant and noble humanism practised in sabilillah (in the way of Allah).

This systematic conquest of territories and peoples, in an attempt to establish the universal sovereignty of God, is not to be confused with the aggression of nations whose ambitions were divorced from scruple and benevolence. Arab colonization of lands was an expressly religious movement coming on the heels of the Messenger’s demise and in professed obedience to Quranic dictate. The Muslims conquered many nations in heart and mind. Voluntary conversions to the new faith were commonplace and ordinary people welcomed the new rulers though their kings opposed the Muslims. Minority stances were tolerated for Islamic reasons. These just conquerors were to live permanently among the peoples they brought within the political fold of Islam. No one hankered for a return to Makkah while living in Cordoba: all the boats had been burnt with the fire of Islam. All this is in stark contrast to the imperialist initiative of European nations that now proudly call themselves ‘democracies’. Theirs was a calculated attempt to achieve power, without any attempt to transform it into morally acceptable authority, without any regard for the dictates of conscience, much less Christianity. The expansion of the European design worldwide was started and finished at a time when the restraining moral influence of the Christian faith was close to zero. This did not prevent that alliance of the Bible with the bullet in the most phenomenal enterprise of unmitigated cruelty and arrogance in recorded history. But it did prevent the European scramble for Asia and Africa from receiving the dignity that revealed religion might have conferred on it. It is difficult to imagine an enterprise more completely treasonable to the cause of Jesus of Nazareth.

We cannot here introduce nuances and details about the varying levels of racism, exploitation and arrogance among the different imperialisms of European prov­enances. The common factors are few and simple. The resources of countless peoples were systematically plundered and stolen. The Europeans themselves only settled in those lands with the most favourable conditions. Those who decided to return to their European base, created synthetic nation-States and placed the impoverished peoples in the custodian of a corrupt elite sympathetic to western ideals of capitalist exploitation, secularity and permissiveness. Although it physically receded, western colonialism left behind protege States ruled by agents who ensured that the citizens remained poor and dependent. The whole process was cynically dubbed ‘independ ence .

In 1956, Tunisian Muslims made an irrefutable response to the stock French justification for governing North Africa. The Tunusians asked; Are the French ready for serf-government? This question, in the anguish of its asking, betrays both mental independence and a moral passion thatjustifies the query. There are good grounds for people of conscience to question whether those who founded their ‘democracies’ on bloodshed can teach others the art of government.[735]

hi contrast, Muslim rule was established with full participation of the conquered peoples which is certainly not the case of Western Imperialism. Conquests were the results of political circumstances in many cases and not the causes. After reviewing the Muslim conquest of Byzantine and Persian Empires, A. Guillaume states again: “None of these victories would have been possible had the population been hostile to the invaders”.[736] He goes on: “Egypt offered even easier fields of conquest. There the Byzantine were hated as nowhere else and a small force of less than 10,000 men in A.D. 640 captured the whole of Lower Egypt”.[737]

The best example of the acceptance of Islam and Muslims voluntarily, as a remedy for an old corrupt political system and as a revolt against a socio-political establishment, is first establishment of Islamic rule in Medina by Muhammad himself. He was invited by the people of Medina and was offered leadership democratically and voluntarily.

Probably this is the explanation why the Byzantine regarded the Muslims as the “Sword of God”. “Later on, Luther was to view the Ottoman in the same light”.[738]

The situation in the Arabian Peninsula was not better than that of the areas directly under the Byzantine and Persian Empires. “In fact, a very important relationship in the complex that involved the spreadof Islam is thatbetween the Empires and their Arab buffer states, the Ghassanids andtheLakhmids. The strength of Empires determined their relations with the buffer states andtherebythe relation ofthe buffer states with the oases andnomads of Arabia. The weakness ofthe Empires atthistimeresultedinthe disfunction and dislocation of these buffer states”.[739] Bernard Lewis states that in the periodjust before the rise of Islam “the subsidies hitherto paid by Byzantium to the Ghassanids were stopped by Heraclius as a measureof economy after the exhaustingPersian War and the Muslims consequentlyfound the Ghassanids in a state of resentment and disloyalty to Byzantium”.[740] Regarding the Lakhmid dynasty, De Lacy O ‘Leary writes: “In A.D. 605 the Lakhmid dynasty came to an end. Hira was reduced to the statusof an ordinary province. This was sorelyresentedbythe Arabs of Hira and rendered them disposed to join the confederation of tribes which the prophet formed in the course of his ministry at Medina”.[741]

But it does not seem fair to relate the spread of Islam and Muslim conquest entirely to the negative factor – the decadence of the major powers and religions in the area. Probably the positive qualities of Islam and Muslims played a more important role in the spread of Islam. Both the Byzantine and Persian still had at their command professional soldiers regularly armed and disclipined. The traditions of Roman warfare were not yet entirely lost and the Persians still possessed their dreaded Cuirassiers, before whom, in better times, even the armies of Rome had often fled.[742] It was thus mainly the religious conviction with which the Muslims were armed and Islamic qualities which helped its spread, though the prevailing circumstances made their conquests easier to the Arabs. The local inhabitants of these two Empires had experienced great oppression at the hands of Byzantines and Persians and accordingly aided and abetted the Arabs.[743] In many cases local people had experienced religious oppression and thus consequently favoured Islam and accepted it. Probably this is why “in some parts of the old Persian Empire conversion to Islam on a large scale took place swiftly very early (and voluntarily)”.[744] “The phenomenal success of Islam was primarily due to its revolutionary significance and its ability to lead the masses out of the hopeless situation created by the decay of antique civilization not only of Greece and Rome but of Persia, China and India”.[745]

The oppression practised under the political and religious authorities, working together, in Persia represented not only the situation in Persia but showed the true circumstances of many countries into which Islam penetrated at the time concerned. Persecution, exploitation and all kinds of oppression stirred up feelings of bitter hatred against the established religion (Zoroastrianism) and the dynasty that supported its oppression and so caused the Arab conquest to appear in the light of a deliverance.[746] The socio-political condition and the religious situation of Persia at the time of Muslim conquest favoured the spread of Islam. Political chaos, and discrimination along withmoral confusion andreligious corruption, prepared the people to welcome the Islamic revolution. The change of government, political system, religious class, ecclesiastical system and social structure was what everybody needed at that time.


One of the political attractions of Islam for the converts was its tolerant attitude towards national customs, native culture and social pattern as long as they did not openly contradict Islam. Furthermore, Islamhas been usedbymanynational movements as a means and avenue to gain and keep national heritage. This is especially true of the national movements in Africa as well as other parts of the Muslim world. From the very beginning many customs were sanctioned by Islam through silence affirmation or even by direct ratification (Taqrir). The Quran was translated into the native language of the people of Buhkara and Samarqand soon after Islam was established there in the second century of Hejra.[747]

However, the unhappy conditions of the masses as a rule always prepared the ground for the spread of Islam. “It is an historical commonplace that the popular masses, fanatically attached to Greek Orthodoxy in Byzantine territories, preferred the Ottomans to Latin Catholics and disowned their ruling class and aristocracy which tried to unite with the Catholic”.[748]

Earlier on, the Egyptian hatred for Byzantine rule was so great that they supported Persians in their fight against Byzantine over Egypt. “The Persian successes over Byzantine were probably facilitated by the apathy or even hostility of the Mesopota-mian Nestorians and the Monophysite Syrians and Egyptians towards the Byzantine rule”.[749] We can thus understand that the Christian Byzantines (Malekites) were so much hated by the natives that the local people preferred Persians who were not really better than the Byzantines, for the Persians, in the second decade of the seventh century beginning A.D. 611, had pillaged Jerusalem, looting and burned churches killing thousands of Christians and carrying off what the latter reserved as the True Cross on which Christ was believed to have suffered.[750] It is thus not very difficult to understand why people under the Byzantine and Persian Empires were, in fact, looking forward to being liberated, particularly by Islam and Muslims.

Analyzing the circumstances prevailing in the area covered by Islam later which helped its spread, L. Stoddard writes: “Thus Islam, like the resistless breath of Sirocco, the desert wind, swept out of Arabia and encountered a spiritual vacuum. Those neighbouring Byzantine and Persian Empires, so imposing to the casual eye, were mere dried husks, devoid of real vitality. Their religions were a mockery and a sham. Persia’s Ancestral Cult of Zoroaster had degenerated into ‘Magism’ – a pompus priestcraft, tyrannic and persecuting, hated and secretly despised. As for Eastern Christianity, bedizened with the gewgaws of paganism and bedeviled by the maddening theological speculations of the decadent Greekmind, ithadbecome arepellent caricature of the teachings of Christ. Both Magism and Byzantine Christianity were riven by great heresies which engendered savagepersecuticmandfurioiis hates. Furtherniore,both1he Byzantine andPersianEmpires wereharsh despotisms which crushed their subjects to the dust and wiped out all love of country or loyalty to the state. Lastly, the two Empires had just fought a terrible war from which they had emerged mutually bled white and utterly exhausted. Such was the world compelled to face the Lava-Flood of Islam. The rest was inevitable…The numerous heretics actually welcomed the overthrow of persecuting co-religionists whom they hated far worse than their alien conquerors. In a short time most of the subject peoples accepted the new faith, so refreshingly simple compared to their own degenerated cults”.[751]

In Spain, as in the old Byzantine Empire, the Muslims were at first welcomed as deliverers from the intolerable yoke of church and state and thousands of inhabitants accepted Islam.[752] “Spain on the eve of the Arab conquest was in a weak and deplorable state”. “Of all that she possessed once she retained only the name” says an early chronicler. On the one hand was a small landowning class with enormous Latifundia, on the other a vast and miserable mass of serfs and slaves and a ruined and decadent middle class. The Clarissimi, or privileged class, were exempt from most taxes, luxurious and depraved; the rest were hungry and discontented. Around the country­side roved robber bands of runaway serfs and slaves. In A.D.616 an intense persecution of the numerous Jews of the Peninsula began, adding one more element to the many who had nothing to lose and all to gain from any change. The initial victories of the Arabs brought about the almost immediate collapse of the worm-eaten structure of the Visigoth state. The serfs went on strike; the Jews revolted and joined the invaders, handing over the City of Toledo to them.

The new regime was liberal and tolerant, and even the Spanish Chroniclers describe it as preferable to the Frankish rule in the North. The greatest benefit that it brought to the country was the elimination of the old ruling class of nobility and clergy; and the distribution of their lands created a new agricultural prosperity of Muslim Spain. The serfs were far better off, while the Bourgeoisie found a refuge from its troubles in a large scale conversion to Islam,[753] Islam emerged into the civilized outer world as cultural and moral force that commanded respect and a coherent doctrine that could challenge on its own ground the Christianity of East, Rome and the Zoroastrianism of Persia.[754]

When Heraclius massed his troops against the Muslims, and the Muslims heard that they were coming to meet them, they refunded to the Inhabitants of Hims the tribute they had taken from them, saying: “We are too busy to support and protect you. Take care of yourself. But the people of Hims replied: “We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny in which we were. The army of Heraclius we shall indeed, with your (governor’s) help, repulse from the city”. The Jews rose and said: “We swear by the Torah, no governor of Heraclius shall enter the city of Hims unless we are vanquished and exhausted”. Saying this, they closed the gates of the city and guarded them. The inhabitants of other cities-Christians and Jews-that had capitulated did the same. When by Allah’s help the unbelievers were defeated and Muslims won, they opened the gates of their cities, went out with the singers and music players…and paid the tribute.[755]

This text and other historical documents leave us little doubt that the socio-cultural conditions of the lands ruled previously by the two great Empires (Byzantine and Persian) were not only against the Empires but were in favour of the spread of Islam. The Muslims in these circumstances needed very little to persuade the local people to accept their rule and faith.[756] Analyzing the socio-political values of Islam as a factor helping its spread, A. Toynbee states: “Islam, like communism, won its way as a programme of reform for dealing with abuses in the contemporary practice of Christianity. And the success of Islam in its early days shows how powerful the appeal of a reforming heresy can be when the orthodoxy that this heresy is attacking is reluctant to mend its ways. In the seventh century of the Christian era, the Muslim Arabs liberated from a Christian Graeco-Roman ascension, a string of Oriental countries – from Syria right across North Africa to Spain – which had been under Greek or Roman rule for nearly a thousand years…The Muslims went on to conquer, by stages, almost the whole of India, and their religion spread peacefully still further afield, into Indonesia…”[757]

hi a sense “the sweep of Islam across much of Western Asia and North Africa and into Europe (in the first century of Islamic era) was facilitated by the power vacuum which had been created by the chronic wars between the Roman and Persian Empires”.[758] The wars exhausted them both. The rapid conquests of the Muslims and the swift spread of Islam were facilitated not only by the near-exhaustion of the two empires, but also by the resentment against the imperial efforts to establish Catholic Orthodoxy against the prevailing monophysitism in Byzantine areas and by the resented close co­operation of Persian Empire and Zoroastrianism.

At the outset of the Islamic progress in Egypt and Syria non-Catholic Christians were better off than they had been under the Byzantine rulers, for the latter had attempted to force their faith upon them. So, too, in the former Persian realms, notably those who were numerous there, the Nestorians, were freer than they had been under the Zoroastrian princes.[759] In Egypt, as elsewhere the Byzantines were hated and the people accepted Muslims partly to get rid of the Byzantine, only a small force of less than 10,000 men captured in A.D. 640 the Lower Egypt. The toleration provided by Islam towards other people and their culture was very attractive compared to the intolerant attitude that the captured people were subject to under the Roman and Persian Empires. “Even down to the time of the Crusaders, there prevailed in Islam a tolerance towards the unbelievers such as is impossible to imagine in contemporary Christendom”.[760]

The Jewish and Christian inhabitants of Damascus were not at all displeased with the conquest of the Byzantine Empire by Arabs. They had felt oppressed by Heraclius in the aftermath of the wars of their liberation from Persia. The Arabs were, moreover, comparatively magnanimous. They acted in the spirit of the Quranic injunction. “If they desist (from fighting) let there be no enmity…” This is reflected in the peace terms for the surrender of Damascus.[761] Philip Hitti explains that the easy conquest of Syria was due to special causes: “The Hellenistic culture imposed on the land since its conquest by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.) was only skin deep and was limited to the urban population. The rural people remained very conscious of cultural and racial differences between themselves and their masters”.[762] This is between native Syrians and their Hellenistic rulers. Baladhuri attributed to the people of the Syrian town of Hims this confession to their Arab conquest: “We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny under which we have been living”.[763]

Most parts of the Muslims’ world were converted to Islam either peacefully or were defeated by the subsequent campaigns of the Muslim armies which were no longer Arab but the natives of the lands who had previously accepted Islam.

In the areas conquered by the Arabs or Muslims’ armies the conquered people did not find Muslim rule too oppressive. Islamic codes of law and administration were far less rigid and far-reaching than the Roman.[764] Islam was a simple faith which many peoples could understand and appreciate easily. So, in the course of time, many Byzantine and Persian Christians turned to Islam.[765] The fact that the appearance of Islam was followed by a new burst of activities and an unexpected success of mass conversion instead of collapse shows that Islam was the answer to great political, social, moral, cultural, etc., needs.[766] A vacuum of many aspects was felt by the followers of old religions, which was filled only with Islam, a gap which other religious and political and cultural systems did not and could not fill.

It is unanimously accepted by impartial scholars that in the rise of Islam and its spread there was a blinding example of revolutionary change which was facilitated by the corruption of both religious and political systems of the regions into which Islam penetrated and grew.

Islam has been regarded by many as a revolt against local political and cultural depression, dictatorship, corruption, divinity of local authority, class distinction and all kinds of discriminations; Byzantine ecclesiasticism and Persian Divine Majesty and all forms of feudalism, aristocracy and racialism.[767] At the same time Islam was embraced by the oppressed people as a religion with a socio-political revolutionary mission.
Thus, in many cases Islam represented not only a new political system with its own political privileges but it was also accepted as an alternative to the unjust, oppressive and autocratic system of the lands into which Islam penetrated. This was the case with Egypt, Persia and India.[768] In some cases Islam was regarded as a political blessing and a means to challenge the old political systems. This is probably why Egyptians accepted Islam while the capital, Alexandria, was still resisting.[769] What made the political position of Islam more appealing to the followers of other religions and therefore prepared them to accept Islam as a means to help them rid themselves of the old corrupt political system was the close association and co-operation of the church and the political ruling power. In many cases the ruling power acted as the supreme spiritual authority too. The people associated Christianity with the unpopular ruling power. They therefore rejected both or one which ultimately meant the rejection of the other too. This is the cases with Christianity in colonial and neo-colonial territories in modern times too.


The political privileges that Islam granted for peoples were without doubt one of the main causes of its popularity. Since people could not imagine themselves to be worse off under Muslims than they were under their old traditional political systems, they had a better chance of being better off under Muslim rule. The case of many Christian nations under the Byzantines who preferred Turkish rule to that of Christians serves as a good example: “A corrupt aristocracy, a tyrannical clergy, the oppression of pre­empted law, the exaction of despicable government, and still more its monopolies, its fiscality, its army of tax and custom collectors, left the degraded people neither right nor institutions, neither chance of amelioration nor hope of redress”.[770]People oppressed others, there was no justice, and no decency. At length the Lord raised up Muhammad, and people welcomed him and his religion.[771] Islam from the beginning was a political as well as a religious system. Not only did Islam preach Muslim unity andbrotherhoodbutidentified itself with humanity and claimedtobethereligion of peace for mankind throughout the history of religion which was only renewed by the prophet Muhammad.[772] Islam did after its establishment in the countries into which it penetrated overthrow the old feudal and unjust systems of government.

The old systems were based on divinity of kings, injustice, feudalism and class, tribal and racial discrimination. Islam did not approve of any of these. So the systems based on these had to disappear.

The first political achievement of Islam was the establishment of a United Arabia and an independent political system which the Arabian peninsula had never known before. This was later on developed into a United Muslim nation or Umma by integration of all Muslim races and peoples. This was achieved after Islam replaced chaos, disorder, tribal rivalry and corrupt feudal governments with peace, order, equality, justice, mutual relationship, decency and fraternity. The entire political atmosphere of the whole area under Islam was changed.

The introduction into the society into which Islam penetrated of a new principle of social union in the brotherhood of Islam had already begun to weaken the traditional binding forces of tribal, feudal, aristocratic and racial ideas.[773] The establishment of a new united society (Umma) based on equality, justice, brotherhood and conscious­ness of one’s duty, and rights of the others had already attracted the peoples of the area to Islam and created a society which was envied by those who were not allowed to join it under old political and military forces. This was mainly why Islam was immediately welcomed by the peoples of Arabia, Persia, Egypt and later on Europe under the Ottomans who had suffered enough under their old systems.

A very striking feature of Islamic political quality is its universal and international outlook. Islam introduced itself as a universal religion and Muhammad, therefore, made it his responsibility to preach the Message of Islam to the world and the world leaders. He sent letters to the Emperor of Persia, the Emperor Heraclius, the governor of Egypt, the governor of Yaman and the King of Abyssinia asking them to embrace Islam. His successors sent ambassadors to foreign countries.

Islamic universalism is based on three fundamental principles as follows:

(a) Unity of God;

(b) Unity of Religion;

(c) Unity of Man.

Again, there is no time or space to go into the analysis of these three unities. However, a quick review of Islamic sources can easily provide us with enough material to explain this point. The outcome of this principle of unity of man is the equality and the brotherhood of mankind which has abundant proofs in the Quran and Islamic tradition. This is the main explanation for Islamic universalism and internationalism which has helped its spread.

The international quality and values of Islamic politics made it easy for Muslims to establish relationships with other communities particularly in the field of commerce and trade. “Though direct historical evidence is lacking, it is most probable that Islam was first introduced into China by Muslim merchants”,[774] presumable as early as the beginning of the reign of the T’sang dynasty (618-907).[775]

Islamic integration of society, the brotherhood of the Umma, let the peoples contribute to Islamic culture, education, civilization and literature. Even slaves managed to establish their kingdom in various parts of the Muslim world. The Muslims were open, objective and receptive in their attitudes towards other cultures and civilizations. The contribution made by various nations at various times towards the development of Islam can prove this point. In recent times the Albanians, like most of the European nations under the Ottoman Empire, enjoyed a semi-autonomy. This semi-independ­ence was enjoyed by other nations during the early period of Islamic conquest if the people wanted to. In fact many nations owe their independence and cultural heritage to Islam after the Mongols’ attack. Without Islam, Persia, like other nations massacred by the Mongols, would not have been able to rescue her heritage. Islam helped build up their sense of nationhood again and provided the motive to live and preserve nationality and statehood.

The same patriotism that made the Cretans cling to their old faith under the foreign domination of the Venetians who kept them at arm’s length and regarded any attempt at assimilation as an unpardonable mistake, and always tried to impress on their subjects a sense of inferiority – may have helped them accept the religion of their new masters (Muslims) which at once raised them from the position of subjects to that of equals and gave them a share in the political life and government of their country.[776] The situation in Persia at the time of the Arab conquest was very similar. The old political and religious elements were helping each other and doing their best to deprive people of all kinds of freedom.[777] Islam provided a new sense of nationalism and freedom. Islamic universalism in this sense is compatible with patriotism.

The compatibility of Islam with national and local political feelings, in many areas of the Muslim world, inspired national movements: the Al-Mawalads in Spain, Almoravids (Al-Murabitoon), Al-Mahads and other movements in Africa and many other parts of the Muslim world were recognized as much as national movements as religious reform. Islam proved to be fulfilling the national and political aspirations of the local people. This can be seen in both past and present political movements in Muslim countries and by Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. Muslim brotherhood made tribal and local organisations give place to Muslim communities. Tribes coalesced into nations and with the increase of intelligence and energy, nations into Empire. Unity decreases the causes of disagreement and feuds disappear. Many instances could be given where and when the acceptance of Islam has worked as a motive and a cause of formation of nations, empires, statehood and independence.

hi modern times Islam has been contributing or in some cases has been the only incentive and moving force for the rise of nationalism, liberation and independence. Algeria serves as a good example to explain this point. On the other hand, many liberal and independent movements associate Christianity with colonialism, hi fact, coloni­alism with the gun in one hand and the Bible in the other has established itself.

Western colonial powers tried every possible means, ways and tools to establish themselves in the colonized areas. They even practised genocide in North America, Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand. Genocide is still practised by Christian missionaries (see Prof. Aaron, Genocide in Paraguay, U.S.A.). To establish them­selves they thought they had to establish their culture and in doing so they completely uprooted the native cultures. The Christian religion was part of their culture which had to be established or even enforced. The propagation of Christianity was indeed to serve as an instrument of their political, material and military advancement and always led to the establishment of colonial power at the expense of national independ­ence. The enforcement of Christianity implied the loss of culture, heritage and political independence and thus the death of nationality. It is not difficult therefore to understand the opposition and resistance offered by the natives in favour of Islam to the introduction of Christianity. [778]Islam wasalso used for political purposes for gaining independence and freedom. It did not weaken native political and cultural aspirations. In fact in some cases people adopted Islam to keep their political independence.


Modern Christianity has been the religion of Europe and the White Man. (The history of Christianity has witnessed long enmity between Western Christianity and Eastern faiths including Eastern forms of Christianity.) It is regarded as part of Western culture to be used to dominate and colonize other lands. Western Christianity with its vast missionary activities expect the followers of other religions to believe in the Trinity instead of Islamic unity and in the divinity of Jesus instead of the simple humanity of Muhammad. “Some of the incontrovertible facts about Jesus are that not only was he not ‘God the Son’ but he was not white and not a European. He was not a prince and he did not belong to a princely caste of an imperial country. He was a Semite of the same racial stock as Arabs or Jews. He was a poor man who worked with his hands and was an ordinary man and a messenger of God in the same way that Muhammad was as Islam explains and Muslims believe”. Despite these facts Jesus has been portrayed to represent the white man and thus introducing Christianity as the Religion of the White Race.
Modern Western Christianity is looked upon as an instrument of Western imperial­ism, colonialism, racism and domination of the West of the world. This has been justly pointed out and properly explained by many impartial scholars, historians, humanists and philosophers of the West. “Two seventeenth century Western observers’ views of Western Christianity as an instrument of Western imperialism are of particular interests. The extent to which Locke and Bayle detached themselves from the religious fanaticism that had been common to Protestant and Catholic Western Christians in the early modern age of Western history is revealed in their ability to place themselves imaginatively in the position of the contemporary non-Western societies and govern­ment and to look through their eyes at the West’s impact upon them”.[779]

Christianity has been recognised as the religion of the white Colonial Race and Judaism as the religion of a race. This has been expressed by the former President of Zimbabwe, Professor Banana. He suggests that the Bible should be revised to liberate God from being seen as the property of ethnic religions, which has sparked off a controversial debate among theologians.

The professor, who is currently lecturing on political theology at the University of Zimbabwe, was even heard on the BBC calling on African theologians to challenge Christian scholars to “seriously consider re-writing the Bible so that God can be liberated from dogmas that make him the property of ethnic syndicates.

hi what has become one of the most controversial theological statements challenging what is probably the most sacred institutions of Christianity, Prof Banana noted that in many situations God was being “domesticated, racialised and co-opted in a vain attempt to claim legitimacy of quasireligious beliefs.”

He contends that the whole theological enterprise has been a game for the so-called superior race, cultures and values being imposed on the poor people of the world.

“The Bible was handed down to us from the West which I might call imperialist theology as those who wrote it did so naturally out of their own cultural environment which was influenced by their perception and interpretation.”

He said the problem was further aggravated by the claim that Jews were the chosen people – a contention Prof Banana has challenged, “as I don’t think that God can give preferential treatment to any one group of people out of many nations.”

“While God is infallible, what people perceive about him is not in itself necessarily infallible. This has caused the inability of many Jews to see the Palestinian problem in its wider human perspective,” he said.

Referring to some verses in the Old Testament where the Lord appeared to Abraham and said: “On to their seed I will give this Land,” Prof Banana states such verses smacked of a “colonialist type of theology.”

“My own conception of God is that He is a God of justice who doesn’t discriminate one group from the others. This is the theology that has caused problems in the Middle East because the Jews say they are the chosen people and that the occupation of Palestine is a God-given right.

“But that theology has also been used in the past by colonial adventurers under the guise of a civilising mission among pagan natives,” said Prof Banana.

While the Bible was an important source of understanding God’s will for humanity, the professor said it did not claim monopoly containing all the revealed truths about God. “Our sources of understanding about God cannot be restricted to a particular resource of a historical epoch.”

He contends that God’s activity in human affairs was found in every race and every nation. So his revelation should not be the exclusive preserve of a so-called chosen race.

“I would like to see a Bible where I would read about Mbuva Nehanda because there is no difference between her and Abraham. The only difference is that one is Shova and the other is different.

Her testimony would just be as legitimate and authentic as that of Abraham. “It must be remembered that the Bible in its present form was a result of a series of conferences which drew up the canon of the present Bible.”

“For every chapter of the Bible, there were numerous others that were left out. I am calling for a fresh look at the canon of the Bible, including additional information and removing irregularities that might exist.”

“We as African people have been bombarded with theology that has been baked in Western ovens. There is the need to do theology justice within the context of Africa. An African theology that must be rooted in the soil and soul of Africa.” he said.

He quickly adds that this was not to say that African theology would be an independent theological source but that it would be part of the universally acceptable source of all theology.

According to Prof Banana African theology would take into account many different aspects and dimensions. He suggests that for the whites Africans had no history, no culture and no religion. There was no conscious attempt to understand the Africans.

The missionary was unable to use the existing religious foundations to build this new faith. I am not suggesting that African religion is pure, but theologians should interact with Africa and baptise that which is positive and exorcise the negative.

The professor’s comments were not welcomed in some quarters, although such calls have been made on different occasions. An inter regional meeting of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of Churches’ Participation in Development held in Harare in 1985 called for the study of the Bible in an African context.

It was then said that the Bible should be free from its European interpretation in order for it to speak meaningfully to the people. “Christian teaching is in a crisis because it appears that the institutionalised church does not represent humanity as a whole. It does not hold this view, as others feel that the Bible has its origins in Africa. One white writer, George Ngwerume, even went to the extent of saying that it was God’s plan to use colonialism as a vehicle through which the word of salvation mightreach the nations.

Aparticipant contends thatthere was nowhere else Godperformed as great and as many miracles as he did in Egypt, including the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on to dry land.

Responding to Prof. Banana father Oskar Wermter says “Now atheologian in the tradition of the reformation called the Bible into question. On what foundation is he going to do Christian theology?” Is he not cutting off the branch on which he is sitting?

He said that God chose the Hebrews but only for themselves, not for the rest of the nations. Rev Pashapa said it was the responsibility of the theologian to decipher the written message and apply itto his own situation. He said the Bible could only berewritten in orderto facilitate abetter grasp and understanding of the overall message of the Bible.

That Christianity is closely associated with colonialism, that they work together and are used alternatively as the instrument of the progress of each other is frankly and openly admitted by many authorized sources. “The British Government Blue Book of the year 1872 on British West African settlements, and the reports of missionary societies themselves, are quite at one on this head,” writes Bosworth Smith. He goes on saying: “The Government of our West African Colonies, Mr. Pope Hennessy, remarks that liberated (colonized) Africans are always handed over to Christian missionaries for instruction, and that their children are baptized and brought up at the public expense (British expense) and are therefore, in a sense, ready-made converts”.[780]

Recent events during the period of colonization has proved the co-operation of Christianity and imp erialism and the exploitation of many unfended p eoples by Christian nations. “In the sixteenth century Spaniards andPortuguese adopted apolicy of frank exploitation by conquest, and the New World pressed this to its logical conclusions: by apapal grantthesetwopowershadthenewly discovered lands dividedbetween them and proceeded to takepossessionandto subdue their inhabitants”.[781] “Towards the end of the century the British began to share and, so far as America was concerned, acted simply as pirates until they managed to secure a field for their own exploitation. Later on, it is true, Dutch and French (Italian, Belgian) started colonization of various lands. They began a period of tyranny and exploitation of exceptional unscrupulousness”.[782] They did not need a new papal grant because they took it for granted (because of previous occasions) that their colonial activities were entirely and absolutely sanctioned by the Holy See and Christian ecclesiastical authority.


The co-operation of the Church and Colonialism has a long history. It may even be suggested that the Church authority is partly responsible for colonialism. We know that European feudal lords joined the Crusaders to capture new lands. The Church has its religious explanation for encouraging them to join the Crusaders but they were killing two birds with one stone. It is probable that the Crusaders would not have been launched had they not served the Colonial purpose.

However, the co-operation of the Church and Colonialism has been explained in more than one way:

Portugal was the first country to move out of Europe for colonial purposes. Vasco da Gama made his voyage to India in A.D. 1487 and 1498. Portugal’s establishment of her Indian colonies only preceded by a few years probes as far as China and Japan, and a hold was obtained in Malacca during A.D. 1517. Spain joined Portugal soon. But while Portugal headed south and then eastwards, Spain explored to the west, Columbus reaching the Caribbean in 1492.

Neighbours in South-West Europe (both situated in Iberian Peninsula) Spain and Portugal were both gripped with the desire to expand, colonize and prosper from exploitation. Both Christian and Catholic, the Cross accompanied them wherever they went. Conversion of the native population was a logical corollary to Colonization. Rome and the Church actually divided the World into two spheres of interest: Portuguese and Spanish. At Tordesillas in June 1494 the two countries agreed by treaty to a demarcation line running from pole to pole, 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands.[783]

The religious nature of colonization is confirmed by the study of the terms of agreement for expeditions, e.g. Legaspi’s instructions, prepared under the authority of the audiencia laid down a number of quite separate clauses as guidelines for the conduct of expeditions. In order of priority after the preamble were that the territories be converted to Catholicism, that a legal means must be taken to enrich the Spanish Crown, permanent settlements were to be made and Christianity brought to the inhabitants. It is, in fact, indicative of the character of the expedition that five missionary friars were included in this number.[784]

A more detailed study of the state of the colonies confirms the continuation of the religious nature of the occupation and colonizations: in those days, the early history of Spain’s new colony was largely made by the first conquistadors and members of five religious orders. Within the structure of colonial rule, missionary fields were allocated on a geographical basis. The Augustinians came in with Legaspi: The Franciscans arrived soon after. Jesuits and Dominicans were positioned by the end of the sixteenth century and the Recollects first mission arrived in 1606 in the Philip­pines.[785] The first Portuguese and Spanish exploiters and colonists were also ardent missionaries of the Christian faith and Muslims were their mortal enemies and their only antagonists.

As colonized and exploited, the Portuguese crusaded for the faith, and Muslim Malacca became a centre for crusade, but Catholicism failed to appeal to the local people who also hated the Portuguese. The Portuguese found themselves ringed by Muslim enemies and their navy and army were continually engaged in fending off serious attacks or taking their fight into their enemies’ strongholds. Afamosa was continually in a state of preparedness.

It so happened that the conflict of interest between Portugal and Spain over the division of the world as suggested by the Pope and Rome took place over an area with a large Muslim population: Philippines. The resistance put up by the Muslims explains the anti-colonial nature of their faith. In 1570 the Spanish Colonial authority sent parties against Muslims in Mindanao and these were cleared. In the same year, Manila , which had been partially converted to Islam, was visited and attempts were made to colonize and re-convert the area. Spanish conquest in the Philippines was never one of complete peace mainly because of Muslim resistance. All attempts made to push into Mindanao and the Sulu, the Muslim areas, were failures and the Muslim Filipinos retaliated sharply, hi fact the first battle was fought between Legaspi’s army and those of Rajah Solayman, the Muslim Chief of the south bank in Manila in 1570.[786] Prof. Gregorio Zaide has calculated that a category of revolts against the Spanish and Colonial authority in the Philippines were inspired by Religion (Islam).[787] There is no doubt that the Muslim territories were never effectively incorporated into the Spanish Philippines and that they maintained throughout the colonial period an administration and a culture entirely different to the remainder of the archipelago.[788] Most of the attempts to colonize the Muslim areas were a failure. Until mid-nineteenth century, the Muslims of the south considered themselves independent. Further, their bellig­erent conduct took the struggle into their enemies’ camp and, except during brief periods of colonial strength, they maintained control of much of the Visyan and Mindanao interior areas. The Muslim struggle against colonization provided them with independence of Mindanao and Sulu.

Contrary to Christianity which has been used by the colonialists and is regarded by the colonized as the religion of colonization, Islam is the only religion that marshalled all its spiritual efforts to fight western colonialism and imperialism throughout the world when its territory, indeed its very heartland was fragmented and practically all its adherents subjected to the colonialists yoke. It has contended and fought all kinds of colonialism whether right, western, imperialistic, capitalist or left, communist, for it is an independent middle-course. Many historical records explain this and many examples to prove this is documented. An example from a completely different environment from that of South-East Asia, in East Africa, would explain this further. During the sixteenth century Portugal’s principle antagonists in East Africa had been the Muslim rulers. The Portuguese did everything possible to crush the Swahili resistance. The Swahili struggle and pride was damaged and Portuguese domination of the East African coast started. But Swahili Muslim resistance to foreign domination and European colonialism continued. Portuguese chronicles of the period are replete with accounts of one rebellion after another.[789]

Islamic history does not confine its heroes to the distant past. The history of Islam, past and present, is replete with instances of revolutionary, anti-colonial and inde­pendence activities and heroism. The valiant resistance of the Ummah throughout the Muslim World against colonialism, neo-colonialism and all forms of imperialism and foreign domination in Asia and Africa deserves special attention. The Sanussi, the Mahdists, the Mojahids and many other revolutionary movements in Africa, Sultan Abd al-hamid of Turkey, Sultan Tippu of India, the courageous struggle of the Moros of the Philippines, Eriterians, Frolitans, Palestinians and many more, against foreign and colonial rule and against Christianisation and Zionism, and the struggle of the religious leaders (Ulama) against political and cultural slavery and against economic and social exploitation of the Muslim peoples by colonialists forces and their local agents, all prove the continuous revolutionary spirit of Islam. “Islamic history is unique in that wherever corruptions and deviations did occur, courageous Mojahids and Mojaddids and Ulama always resisted and spoke the truth boldly even at the risk of their lives”.[790]


The region presently known as Senegal and the Gambia, comprising the modem states of Senegal and the Gambia, is more famous in historical circles for its numerous Jihads in pre-colonial days, as well as for its intense and bloody resistance to colonialism. As early as the tenth century CE, an Islamic state known as Takrur had come into existence in Futo Turo, the northern part of the region. But the tidal wave of Islam which swept across the region, and indeed the whole of Western Sudan, in the 18th and 19th centuries might have been sparked off by the Jihads of Alfa Ibrahima Nuhu which culminated in the establishment of the Imamate of Futa Jallon in 1725. This was to be followed in Futo Turo by the Jihad led by Shaikh Sulayman Bal, which in the course of six years was able to overthrow the ruling dynasty and establish an Islamic state in 1775. These came before the Jihad of Shehu Usman dan Fodio, and it is possible to credit them with giving confidence to Muslims once again after a prolonged period of decline which was attributed partly to the destruction of the Islamic city. Henceforth, a successive wave of Jihad either to affect the Islamisation of Pagan communities or to establish a Caliphate of Muslims or in the later times, to fight the colonial encroachment, French imperialism in particular were to follow. Thus there was the Jihad of Imam Mamdu Ba which reached its climax in 180 5. The j ihad, which was on a relatively small scale prepared the ground for wider and more ambitious jihad of Imam Amadu Ba in the course of a decade. Elsewhere in the region, a still more extensive transformation was taking place – the great Jihad of Shaikh ‘Umar al-Futi, whose jihad could fairly compare with that of Shehu Usman in Hausaland. The j ihad of Shaikh ‘Umar al-Futi added a new dimension to the history of the region – that is the head on collision involving Islam and Colonialism. During the late nineteenth century West Africa was in crisis as a result of western European imperialism. It was the region’s ulama who led the Muslim masses in the greatest challenge and resistance to the colonists. Muslims with their entrenched belief in Allah, their heritage of Statehood, and the cohesive force of a universal religion preaching genuine brotherhood were able to organize resistance onawider scalethanthe pagan political communities along the coasts. As the practice of Islam involves the strict observances of rituals and social and political obligations, and it was imperative for Muslims to live in anlslamic State governed by a muttaqi leader, and since politics and religion are inseparable in Islam, it was their duty to establish the political as well as the religious strength of Islam and, when necessary, defend it against the intrusions of pagan and Christian powers. The ulama with their reformist background were also aware that belief in the true message of Islam meant aunited Ummah under the leadership of anamirul-mumineen, aprinciple incompatible with colonial rule. As such they were unable to cooperate with the colonizers without j eopardizing the religious sanctions for their political authority. They had to resist the pressures of European imperialism not only to safeguard their political independence but also to preserve the religious integrity on which their societies had been founded. Despite their fierce resistance to colonialism, the Muslim State and other territories in the region were occupied on account of the Europeans’ superior organization and treachery. Most of the radical ulama were brutally eliminated and others marginalized; and in their place the colonialists propped up some pliable ulama. Though they were presented as the religious leaders of their communities, their function was merely ceremonial. This is the kind of history that moulded the character, sensitivities and way of Senegal. It is this uncompromising Islamic nature of Senegal that French imperialism strove so hard to eliminate, or at least distort. The French first assaulted the Islamic system of education, closing at first most of the Quran schools. The strategy failed when the Muslims boycotted the colonial alternative schools. And the introduction of the Assimilation Policy, which was aimed at integrating Muslim Senegal into French Culture and eliminating all traces of Islam, was supposed to break the backbone of Islam once and for all, especially ideologically and culturally. But Muslim Senegal, under the guidance of Sufi Brotherhoods, resisted the Assimilation Policy, and shattered it to pieces. The French left frustrated; they had the political power in their hands, and even after independence their stooges inherited then-power, yet Islam could neither be contained nor destroyed. It is true that a large part of the Muslim leadership remained passive politically and even, at times collaborated with the ruling elite. But the current of Islam in this Muslim country remained too powerful to be stopped by colonial manipulations.[791]
The Senegal experience presents a unique resistance to colonialism in which colonial institutions and policies are kept in abeyance by a cultural resistance. The Sufi orders added another dimension to this resistance: they have consistently controlled the Senegalese agriculture, and thus remained dominant in the economy. The hope of the imperialists has been that if their policies and political control are prolonged, the Sufi systems would collapse and Islam would thus disintegrate. They had predicted that this collapse would take place as far back as 1912. hi the words of Conor Cruise O’Brien: ‘Paul Marry after all, predicted the disintegration of the Mouride brotherhood as long as 1912, with a cogent supporting argument which was completely invalidated by subsequent events’. (The Mourides of Senegal, p.303). The upsurge which the Tijaniyya order has enjoyed with emergence of Shaikh Ibrahimi Kaulack in the sixties and seventies, and the absurd and senseless strategy of the French which gave the less than one percent Christian population the presidency in Senegal, together with the growing politicisation of Muslims, in which Mamada Dia, a former prime minister who had suffered imprisonment for ten years in Senghor’s days is a leading figure – all this, and the Islamic nature of the mass psychology of the people, tend to drive Senegal closer and closer to Islam. New alarm bells ring daily in the academic and political circles in the West. Peter Clarke discerns in the rejection of the colonial institutions in Nigeria and Senegal an indication of a trend towards ‘Integral Islam’ and a tendency not only to offer Islam as an alternative to existing political, legal and economic systems, but also to have it measured by its capacity to provide the best solution to the problems of under development’. This is stated in a paper presented in an International Seminar on Islam held in March 1984 at North-Western University, Illinois. US.

In its 6 August 1984 issue, West Africa carried an article written by MacDonald, in which the author suggests that: ‘Islam in Senegal is on the March. More than twenty years of independence has been long on materialistic promises on providing the contentment and peace of mind for which many had hoped…Now Islam is consolidat­ing its hold as people turn to the strict Muslim moral code to give them again a sense of direction’.

But French imperialism still poses a very formidable obstacle to a total expression of Islam in Senegal. This imperialism has retreated on several occasions, but it has done so in several other instances, only to advance in new colours. For instance, the ‘voluntary’ abdication of the former president, Senghor, at the instance of France represents a retreat, because the French sensed that his stay in power over a population that was almost entirely Muslim and which is historically and ideologically opposed to imperialism, was no longer tenable.

But this retreat does have some element of tact and strategy to it. Senghor, a Christian, had been displaced, and in his place came Abdou Diof, a Muslim; but in real terms both are an integral part of one system, and they both represent French interests of Muslim Senegal. It is thus politics of appeasement, the same politics that prevails in many a Muslim country.

A still greater challenge exists in Senegal: it is the need for the various Tariquas to establish a common forum or platform in order to effectively challenge the secular forces that are all banded together to frustrate Islam, and to respond adequately to the people’s overwhelming desire to live in an Islamic state. This is the real challenge, and one hopes that the heroic people of Senegambia may yet provide a worthy example for Muslims of West Africa as they had done three centuries earlier. What has been said about the given case applies to many other cases such as Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon and almost all the countries of the Middle East and recently of the countries of Central Asia.


Most Latin American states are more than 90 percent Roman Catholic, although some have small Protestant and Muslim minorities, along with a number of tribal peoples in remote areas who follow animistic forms of paganism. Latin America accounts for 335 million of Catholicism’s 893 million followers.

Catholicism was brought to the region in the sixteenth century by the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors, who systematically destroyed the indigenous civilizations and cultures, and sent their wealth and plunder back to Spain. The people were either enslaved or eradicated, their armies rendered ineffective by the technological superiority of the Christianinvaders, who had the advantages of iron, steel, firearms and cavalry. Within fifty years the entire continent, from California to Cape Horn, was subdued.

During this process of plunder and brutality, the C atholic Church provided an ideolo gical justification for the actions of the conquistadors in the form of apapal bull which authorised the Spanish and the Portuguese kings to be ‘missionaries of Christ’. The continent was divided into fields of Spanish and Portuguese influence, and the robber-bishops and inquisitors were given afreehandinthe forcible conversion ofthenativesusingtechniques of murder, torture and intimidation perfected during the war against Islam in Spain. The inquisition beganfunctioning in the ‘newworld’ as early as 1515, weeding out suspected Muslims, Protestants and Jews from among the waves of Spanish immigrants who were following in the wake of the conquistadors, possibly seeking refuge in the Americas from persecution at home. As in Spain, one could face being burnt at the stake for an alleged refusal to eat bacon or for being seen performing ‘prohibited’ ablutions. These activities pale into insignificance, however, when compared to the genocide of the native ‘Indians’, which continues to this day in remote areas of Brazil, hi every new town built by the Spanish, a church occupied pride of place in the town square. The minorities of ‘Indians’ who survived the imported diseases and savage exploitation were forcibly assimilated into the new European/Christian order. The policy of “a good Red Indian is a dead one” resulted in the almost complete genocide of this race as the policy of “a good black man is the black slave” resulted in the slavery of this race in Americas.

At first this new European order was based on simple robbery and plunder. Later, when there was nothing left to plunder, a colonial regime based on forced agricultural labour was set up. Slaves were brought in from Africa, often because the local population was completely wiped out. Many of these slaves were of Muslim origin and there were several attempts at revolution based on Islamic principles aimed at establishing an Islamic State, for example by the Hausa-speaking slaves in Brazil. The programme of forced conversion was thereby given a new impetus.

From this time dates the establishment of the three demographic groups of Latin America: the European aristocracy, mainly of Spanish or Portuguese decent; the native population, and people of African descent, originally brought over as slaves.

By the eighteenth century, Spain was losing its grip on its colonies, as the descendants of the conquistadors began to establish autonomy centres of power and began to question the need to send taxes to Spain. Most of Latin America had achieved independence from Spain by 1830, although Spain hung on to Cuba until 1898. These independence movements were more in the nature of coups d’etats against Spanish rule by locally-bom elites, rather than revolutions supported by the masses.

Throughout this period, the Roman Catholic Church served as the ideological and religious underwriter, first of the Spanish empire and later of the ruling families which dominated the newly established plantation States. Therefore a key part of Roman Catholic doctrine was to present a vision (or rather a perversion) of Christ’s teaching, presented in the Bible, which justified the social relations of slavery and colonialism. To this end the officially sanctioned theologians portrayed the colonial order as an unchanging God-given order. To rail against it would be blasphemy. The peasants and slaves were told to endure their lot as a religious duty, and were told not to fight for social justice, since they would be rewarded for their sufferings in the next life. In addition to this a mythology was developed which emphasised the ‘civilizing’ role of the European conquerors, with the church at its ideological heart. Thus the destroyer of civilizations, the new European order sanctioned by a corrupt church, was able to pass itself off as the originator and protector of civilization in the region.

The newly-independent Latin American States were initially large enough to achieve some kind of genuine economic independence. This did not last, however: the northwest ‘Republic of Grand Columbia’ broke up into Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador and Panama. The United Provinces of Central America (1823) became the separate States of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. These States represented little more than the combined estates of a few allied families, and existed to line their pockets. Meaningful economic independence, in the sense of the ability to develop an autonomous economic infrastructure capable of generating the require­ments of social justice, was not possible within this divided petty-statelet system.

At this point the US came onto the scene. In 1823, president James Monroe and secretary of State James Quincy Adams formulated the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ at a time when the US was looking for territorial expansion in the former Spanish lands; California, Texas and the lands in between were added to the union at this point. The Monroe Doctrine was aimed at establishing a new order based on free market capitalism in the area. Although it was drafted in the liberal political vocabulary of the day, invoking ‘independence, equal favours reciprocity, the doctrine was little more than a protection-racket, whereby the Latin American Statelets were allowed their existence and token independence, and were protected from a European threat which had long since receded on the condition that they allow the free penetration of American capital, and that the governments of these countries adopt constitutions and follow policies acceptable to the US. The greedy elites running these Statelets found these conditions all too acceptable. Over the years the doctrine was embellished by various ‘corollaries’ aimed at farthering US hegemony in the region. Their titles speak for themselves: ‘paramount interests,’ ‘ manifest destiny,’ ‘big stick policy,’ ‘dollar diplomacy,’ ‘paternalism’, and ‘protectionism’.

The role of the US in enforcing those regimes deemed favourable to US interests continues to the present day, and provides an immediate background to the present situation in Latin America. Every meaningful attempt to achieve self-determination and socialjustice in the regionhas been crushed. Only Cuba was able to escape this fate, only to become a de facto Soviet satellite. Nicaragua was dividedbythe US from 1910to 1933, after whichtheSarnoza dictatorship was imposed on the people until the revolution of 197 9. In Guatemala, CIA backed mercenaries toppled the progressive Arbenz government at the cost of more than 100,000 civilian lives. The elected Allende government in Chile deemedto be against US national interests, was toppled by aUS-backed coup in 1973. Tens of thousands of civilians ‘disappeared’in theresultantterror-campaignunleashedbythevictoriousgeneralPinochet. Asimilar terror-campaign was unleashed in Argentina by the Galtierijunta, who also helped to train the US-backed ‘contra’ mercenaries for the destabilization of the Nicaraguan revolution. The role of a strong Church orthodoxy in providing a veneer of religious, cultural and intellectual legitimacy to oppressive regimes continued throughout Latin American history, withits emphasis ona ‘spiritual’ conception ofreligion which is too ‘transcendental’ to sully itself with the political affairs of this world – that is to say the politics of liberation and social justice. Involvement in the political power-structures of the US-backed elites is, of course, although different. It was in the light of the history of Christian colonialism that a new interpretation of Christianity had to be introduced.


The whole Bible is a constant denunciation of injustice and a constant defence of the poor, widows and orphans, and it is constantly setting up the goal of humanity – a perfect society. That’s the difference between the bible and the pagan religions, which considered the world as finished, unable to change, and were on the side of the status quo, oppression’. So speaks Ernesto Cardinal, priest, poet, liberation theologian and founder in 1966 of the radical peasants’ commune of Solentaname, on an island in Lake Nicaragua, which became a centre for disseminating the radical Christian doctrine of liberation theology. Cardinal’s poetry and theological writings were published in Central and South America, the US and Europe. A library was founded, with a museum housing paintings and wood-carvings of the peasants and pre-Columbian art found on the island. The radical commentary on the new testament, developed by the peasants during open discussion sessions, was published as The Gospel in Solentaname in Spanish, German and English, hi 1977, the community was destroyed by troops of the US-backed Samoza dictatorship in an orgy of killing, rape and pillage. The surviving peasants joined the Sandinista guerrilla fighters and Cardinal himself was appointed minister for culture by the revolutionary regime after the fall of Samoza in July 1979. Liberation theology developed as a radical grassroots movement in Catholic Latin America, aimed at deconstructing what was seen as centuries of false teachings which have built up around Christianity, and have distorted the message of Jesus, peace be upon him, into an ideological buttress for despotic regimes. Though the church in Latin America has certainly played that role, the religiosity of the masses, expressed in a Christian context, cannot simply be dismissed by the corruption of State-sponsored religion.

Liberation theology can thus be seen as a radical critique of western colonialism in general and of neo-colonialism and of the US-imposed capitalist order, based on ethical principles laid out in the teachings of Jesus, as presented in the Christian bible. Similarly, it articulates the aspirations of the people in the context of their religion and their culture. As such it stands as a radical alternative to the marxist-leninist revolutionary programme as followed in Cuba. Most other national liberation idealogists, such as Brazil’s Leonardo Boff employ a marxian historical analysis in their critique of social injustice.

For the liberation theologist, the Christian ‘kingdom of God’ is despiritualized and demystified. From being an estachological event it becomes ‘the establishments on this earth of a just society, without exploiters or exploited’. Christ is seen as a revolutionary around whom the poor and dispossessed rally. The temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the materialism and commercialism of a religions orthodoxy that sided with the elite clique who profited from the Roman occupation. Jesus is seen as using revolutionary ‘violence’ to cleanse the holy places. Jesus’s miracles are similarly reinterpreted: on the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Luke 9: 10-17) we hear ‘the gospel doesn’t mention multiplication or miracle, it just says that they shared them. The miracle was to persuade the owners of the bread to share it, that it was absurd for them to keep it all, while the people were going hungry’.

The art produced by the peasants of the Solentaname portrays Christ and his followers as peasants, in shocking contrast to Byzantine and Latin art, where Christ is enthroned as emperor and judge. Similarly the biblical narrative is placed in the historical context of Latin America under US-backed dictatorships. Samoza becomes Herod: the Romans become occupying US troops. Bottles of Coca Cola stand symbolically on Herod’s table. The troops of Herod/Samoza carry automatic rifles and wear uniforms supplied by the US. In one resurrection scene the crude wooden crosses in the graveyard bear the names of young revolutionaries who fell during the struggle. In another disturbing painting the slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:12-13) is depicted as one of the many arbitrary massacres of civilians carried out by US backed terrorists in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the child-like naivety of the style suggesting that the artist was not painting as an eye-witness to real events.

On divine judgment and heaven and hell, Cardenal says: ‘The traditional interpreta­tion is wrong and is used for exploitation because the poor man has been led to believe he must patiently endure because after death he’s going to be better off…As I see it, it is to threaten the rich so they won’t go on exploiting’.

At the point where Christianity is at its most mystical and obstruse, the alleged crucifixion and resurrection, the blunt radicalism is still there: ‘While he was dying on the cross all Jerusalem was eating the passover lamb…Just as David Tejada was beaten to death on Good Friday when they were making the stations of the cross on the streets of Managua, and his body thrown down into the crater of the Masaya volcano’. Even the absence of Christ’s body in the tomb (Matthew 28: 1-10), conventionally taken as a proof of resurrection, is equated with the bodyless graves of those who have ‘disappeared’, secretly killed, by the security forces in Latin America.

Christ is seen as ‘the word God made flesh’ not because he is the son of God incarnate, but because he was a fulfilled human being who fully realized his humanity in a process of revolutionary struggle. Furthermore, this process of a radical becoming can be followed by anyone; Jesus is seen as an ordinary man, an example which can be followed by anyone, and there is a tendency to view the whole story of the resurrection as a metaphor rather than as a literal truth.

Alongside this radical revision of religion, which question the very meaning of what it means to be ‘religious’, is an awareness of the role played by US sponsored religion in upholding unjust and exploitive regimes: ‘Now in Holy Week [Easter] they’re preaching a lot of sermons. But they won’t be “subversive”, on the radio you can hear a sermon on the seven last words, but is sponsored by Coca Cola’.

The response of the exploiting dictatorial regimes to the ‘theology of liberation’ was a predictable orgy of killing aimed at decapitating the movement by liquidating the relatively small intellectual elite of political priests and theologians who formed the intellectual vanguard of the movement. Parallel to this, the dissemination of ideas by the printed word or by lectures and sermons was criminalized. Towns and villages deemed receptive to the new theology were intimidated by random campaigns of pillage, burning, looting and rape, and villagers suspected of being committed to liberationist ideas were killed.

Liberation theology was seen by these regimes and their US paymasters as potentially a greater threat to the stability of the US order than were Marxist doctrines, which were, after all, largely the property of an urban and western educated elite. For liberation theology was grounded in the innate religiosity of the masses, and in a sense was simply a learned and intellectual articulation of the popular religion of the people, which had always been opposed, on many key points, to the officially propagated religion of the State and the land owners, which stressed the doctrine of vicarious atonement, an individualized concept of sin, deferred gratification for the masses in the afterlife, and which presented the de facto political order as part of a wider divinely ordained scheme. As part of a process to undermine the validity of liberation theology, these regimes enlisted the aid of professional heresyologists in the Vatican. The aim was to portray liberation theology, that is to say a politically committed religiosity, as a heresy, a deviation from the true faith, an attempt to undermine religion, a plot to advance the causes of communism and atheism by dressing it up in religious garb.

Several leading liberationists were summoned to the Vatican and hauled up before ‘the congrega­tion for the doctrine of the faith’ (See ‘the holy inquisition’). There was a Vatican attempt to undermine and discredit the validity of Nicaragua’s 1984 general and presidential elections, in which the Sandinistas were over-whelmingly returned, and the pope issued a decree, largely with Nicaragua in mind, forbidding priests from holding political office (three Sandinista cabinet ministers were priests). Key liberationists were put under ‘penitential silence’, that is banned from public speaking for the publication of written works on pain of excommunication. These ploys having failed, because of both popular support for liberationism and the intellectual rigorousness of its Jesuit defenders, the Vatican tried a different ploy. One of the main themes of the liberationists, social justice, was used as to blunt the movement. An official Vatican statement, written under the direction of a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, erstwhile persecutor of liberationism, was published in 1986. The document stressed the church’s commitment to social justice and reform and was hailed as ‘not just being about liberation theology; more importantly it is a major new presentation of the social doctrine of the church’, the document sought to emphasize the church’s commitment to ‘the poor, to social justice and to the general theme of liberation’. This was enough to satisfy more liberally-minded elements in the church, as one liberal cardinal put it: ‘Finally after years of incomprehension the pope sees what we have been doing’. However, closer analysis shows that this document was simply an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of the liberationist movement. The old emphasis on ‘spiritual’ rather than ‘earthly’ or ‘temporal’, liberation was still there, and the church refused to acknowledge the reality of antagonism between unequal social classes, branding the doctrine as marxist, and opposed to the Christian concept of ‘universal brotherhood’. The document amounted to a restatement of all the doctrines dressed up in a radical vocabulary. Armed struggle was only to be used as ‘an absolute last resort’. The individualized concept of salvation remained. The view of the pope and cardinal Ratzinger was that liberationism sought to reduce the Christian message to a leftist political message that loses sight of its aims and objectives. The new document was according to Vatican sources: ‘an attempt to restore the rightful place of transcendence in religion’, and according to the pope ‘the theme of liberation was essential to the Christian message, provided that reflections on that theme were cleansed of elements that might adulterate it’. Thus, being part of a vast hierarchically-organized power-structure such as the Roman Catholic church is a key weakness for doctrines such as liberationism in its theological basis. As long as that attachment is there, it will always be possible to co-opt liberal elements of the movement while persecuting the militants. Nonetheless it does represent a genuine attempt to strip Christianity of the layers of mythology which have built up aroundit, andto try torecover something ofthe original teachings of Jesus. Likewise itis also anattempt toawakenpoMc^rorociousnessamongthe deprivedw of their own culture and in the context of one ofthe divinely revealed monotheistic religions.

Furthermore, in the reactions ofthe oppressive regimes, especially in their attempts to develop an official religious orthodoxy with which to brand liberationism as a heresy, there are key correspondences to the situation in the Muslim world, where an attempt has been made to blunt the Islamic movement by buying out respected seats of religions learning, such as Al-Azhar, and using them to try to brand the concept of Islamic revolution and movements as ‘heretical’. As to relations between groups such as the liberationists and the Muslims, we must remember that, according to various ahadith, there will be a section of the ahl al-kitab who will remain muminoon until doomsday. SurelythesestrugglersagainstUSimperialismmustcomeinthiscategory. Thesystem which oppresses Latin America is the same system which is holding the Muslim world. At the very least, we, as Muslims, should show an interest in the struggles of our brothers and sisters outside the Muslim world who are fighting the common enemy. It is pointless to castigate a people who are totally ignorant of Islam for their lack of Islam: a more fruitful criticism might be aimed at the lack of Islam of those bom into Islam. Equally futile, at this stage, is the prospect of Christian-style missionary activity in areas such as Latin America by Muslims. Our responsibility is to get our own house in order by means of an Islamic revolution, da’wah activity without an Islamic State is, after all like’ a calling card without an address’. Thus at this stage the cause of Islam is best served by mutual respect and brotherhood between those seeking, in the name of God, to establish a regime of social justice and an end to exploitation.[792]


Not only did Christian missionaries work in full co-operation with colonialism, but they also used Christian minorities as the fifth column for colonial powers. There are many cases substantiating this point. One example would suffice to illustrate this point here; the case of Christian minorities in the Ottoman lands. When the Ottoman Turks made the fateful decision to embrace Islam as their religion, they became a marked people in the eyes ofthe Christian World, which saw Islam as a great danger to its very existence. The Turks’ refusal, to accept Christianity, despite the efforts of Pope Pius II, who did his utmost to persuade Sultan II, the Conqueror of Istanbul, to become a Christian prince, did not endear the Turks to the Christians of the West; nor did their contribution to the Muslim cause during the great politico-religious upheaval ofthe Crusades.

These religious wars creazted bitterness, hatred and hostility between Islam and Christianity, which were to last for centuries. Christendom saw Islam as a deviance, a bogey, which, it believed, aimed at eradicating the Christian heritage; and therefore the Ottoman Turks, who had championed the cause of Islam by taking over the Caliphate, became the object of that Christian hatred and hostility.

The ecclesiastical and lay leaders of the Christian West never forgave the Turks for turning down Christianity, for joining forces with, to them, an alien and resurgent religion, and for delivering the final blow to the ailing and decaying Christian Orthodox Byzantine Empire by capturing Constantinople, the jewel of the Christian East. The Anglican Bishop William Barry, in contrast to his predecessors, was rather mild in the unfounded epithets he directed against the Turks in expressing this Christian hatred, when he declared in August 1919: “The damning guilt of Turkish rule is that it never has been, never could be, anything else than Barbarism, laying waste civilization, and lying prone on its ruins…We are bound to admit with Gladstone that…he (the Turk) appears in history as ‘the great anti-Christ among the races of men’.

As the Ottoman Empire expanded into Eastern Europe, many more Christians came under the rule of the Sultan. Not only was the Christian World shrinking because of the advance of Islam, but Western foreign trade was suffering because of the lucrative resources and the markets of the East were now in the hands of a Muslim World Power. And thousands of Christians who had suffered under the tyranny of the feudal system chose, of their own free will to embrace Islam.

When the Turks appeared before the walls of Vienna for the second time, poised to pierce the very heart of a disunited Christian Europe the shock aroused the Christian states to put aside, for the time being, their un-Christian, petty and selfish interests, to join forces, and to initiate a new Crusade against Islam – the process of de-Islamisation of Eastern Europe, including the Balkans, of Anatolia and possibly of the whole Middle East, had begun.

That process of de-Islamisation, which many scholars believe is still going on in our time, proven by the plight of Bosnia, was to be one of the main causes, if not the only cause, of the great tragedy that befell the people of the Balkans, of Anatolia, of the Caucasus and the Middle East. Millions of Muslims and non-Muslims lost their lives on the altar of this de-Islamisation policy of the Great Christian Powers that were all out to lay theirgreedy and lustful hands on the territories of the Ottoman Caliphate, and on the lands of its Muslim successors, an inhuman process which we are still witnessing in the Balkans and elsewhere.

The Ottoman Caliphate had provided autonomy, security of life and estate to the non-Muslim minorities within its territories, known as the dhimmi. The ethnic and religious communities living within its boundaries, irrespective of their origin, culture and beliefs, benefitted enormously from Muslim leniency, and from all the other benefits provided by a strong and benevolent state. They enjoyed security, liberty, social, educational, linguistic autonomy and economic prosperity, and preserved their ethnic and religious identity in peace and order within the Ottoman communal (millet) system.

This is increasingly confirmed by impartial and authoritative historiographers who admit that, fundamentally, the Ottoman Caliphate was not a despotic theocracy, which oppressed and exploited its non-Muslim subjects. On the contrary, it allowed a large degree of local, communal and regional autonomy measured against contemporary Europe. It practised exemplary tolerance towards the numerous ethnic and religious groups living within its boundaries. This is also confirmed by a number of British diplomatic and consular representatives who served in the various provinces of the Ottoman Caliphate, especially after the introduction, on 18th February 1856, by Sultan Abdulmecit, of an Imperial Charter, confirming the religious and legal rights of all his subjects.

It is revealed in many of the illuminating reports which the British consuls sent to London, that the general condition of the Christian millets improved by leaps and bounds, particularly since the 1830s. Benefiting from the exemption granted to them for military service, in return for the payment of a trifling military exemption tax, these Christian millets were enriching themselves at the expense of the Muslims who, if not killed in action for the defence of the Caliphate, returned home to find the local conditions changed, and their land, now uncultivated and infertile, usurped by the Christian money lenders. Being religious and inarticulate, the Muslims preferred to suffer in silence rather than bring their grievances to the notice of the authorities in the Ottoman capital; whereas the Christians had, at Istanbul, and throughout the Caliphate, many redress-demanding representatives in the form of consulates, agen­cies and embassies. Indeed, not only were their complaints listened to when made, but even fabricated for them when not made, as reported by British Consul Palgrave in 1866.

If, fromtimetotime, some of the Christians didsufferfrommaladrmustration,especially when the Ottoman Caliphate began to decline in the latter part of its existence, and when expansionist and colonial powers began to plot for its downfall, with the connivance of some of its minorities, in most cases they suffered because their leaders were given much autonomy in running the affairs of their community without much interference from the state; but they abused their power. Hence, the Christians suffered sometimes not so much from Ottoman Muslim maladministration, as from the misrule of their own leaders. Nevertheless, as a result of the millet system, the Muslim and non-Muslim subjects of the Sultan lived in relative peace and security, until nationalism and revolutionary ideas began to make inroads in the Ottoman fabric early in the 19th century.

This is in sharp contrast to the status and fate of ethnic and religious minorities living in contemporary Europe, such as the Jews, the Irish Catholics, the Protestants of France and Silesia, the Calvinists of Hungary and others, all of whom were persecuted for their religious beliefs and many of whom could only find solace by taking refuge in the Ottoman Caliphate where Muslim, Christian and Jew lived side by side in harmony, as testified by a number of Western scholars. According to Alexander Powell, there was less religious bigotry and persecution throughout Ottoman history than there was in the history of the European states between the 13th and 16th centuries.

It was when the Ottoman Caliphate began to decline that some of the Christian minorities, which inspired for autonomy or independence, started to intrigue with the Great Powers, particularly with Christian Orthodox Russia, who saw in such minori­ties valuable allies and instruments in her military ambitions directed against Ottoman territories.

Meanwhile, the influx into the Ottoman Caliphate of Catholic and Protestant missionaries, during the 19th century, did much harm. These missionaries, began to indoctrinate the Ottoman Christians by not only teaching them their own history, language and literature, but also by inculcating in them so-called liberal and revolutionary ideas. The Protestant missionaries were clandestinely trying to convert the Muslims as well as the other sects; the Catholics were trying to lure the Orthodox Christians to the Vatican; and the Orthodox were forcing their congregation to remain in their own church. In order to protect themselves and their proteges, these missionaries, who posed as the champions of the Christian minorities in the Ottoman Caliphate, began to appeal to the Great Powers for their intervention, and thus caused many diplomatic incidents.

The C atholics in Turkey were protected mainly by France, Italy and Australia, the Protestants by Britain, Germany and the USA, and the Orthodox by Russia. The Christian minorities were thus divided bytheGreatPowersfortheir own ulterior motives. Russia wasusingthe Orthodoxand Gregorian Christians in order to possess Istanbul, the Straits and the Eastern Provinces of the Ottoman Caliphate; Britain was using the Protestants to preserve and increase her influence and interests in the Middle East: inEgypt, Arabia and Mesopotamia (Iraq); andFrance was making use of the Catholics and the Gregoriansforher own interests in Cilicia, the Lebanon and Syria.

All these Great Powers, more consciously than not, were directly or indirectly causing restlessness and encouraging agitation, even insurrection, among the different Christian creeds. This would enable them to interfere in the internal affairs of the Ottoman C aliphate by presenting that they were interested in the problems of the Christian minorities; but, in fact, they were j ockeying with one another for influence in, or a portion of, the Caliphate when the ‘sick man of Europe’ demised. Inordertohastenhis demise, they encouraged the growing nationalist movements in the Caliphate, particularly in the Balkans, andtheyused andmisusedthe Christian minorities as a fifth column for breaking up the OttomanCaliphate.

In Thrace the Greeks, in Bosnia, Herzegovins and Bulgaria the Serbs and other Slavs, and later in Anatolia the Greeks the Armenians and the Assynians began to demand autonomy, or independence, with the covert and overt assistance of the Great Powers who vied with one another in order to dominate the Middle East. Their frequent interventions in the domestic affairs of the Ottoman Caliphate contributed greatly to the forces of instability in the Caliphate, and to the inception and intensification of insurrection and terrorism from the repercussions of which we are still suffering from today. The so-called ‘Bulgarian atrocities’ propagated by Islam-hater William Ewart Gladstone, the so-called ‘Amenian massacres’ espoused by Islam-hater Lord Bryce etc., are incidents directly or indirectly created by these ruthless Powers in order to achieve their insidious ambitions.

In this way they were supported by Christianity and its powerful propaganda machinery. In the field of propaganda no one could surpass the Ottoman Christians who used their positions as translators/interpreters in the embassies and consulates of the Great Powers to convince those Powers of their stories of massacre, and to sway their relief workers, missionaries and ecclesiastical leaders about the genuineness of their case. Many a time a gullible Western journalist was trapped by their vociferations, and spread their tales. Moreover, European diplomats and travellers within the Ottoman dominions were lured by these people who had the same religion , and who usually knew foreign languages, and through them, the tales of massacre, etc were widely spread.

According to the Reverend Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, the first president of the American Robert College at Istanbul, (now the Bogazici University), a propaganda bureau was set up in London in the 1870s which had, for its object, the foreign dissemination of all news prejudicial to the Muslims. He stated that the onslaught of this ‘one-sided and unreliable information’ about any people would, after a period of years, stir up a hostility and hatred that could not be easily overcome. ‘Whenever I pick up a paper of eastern news’, declared Hamlin, ‘I pray, Oh Lord, Endow me with a suitable sense of unbelief.

Because the Muslims were inarticulate and religious, had a sense of dignity, and preferred to suffer in silence rather than to vociferate, the Ottoman Christians and their champions in the West were left unchallenged to spread the wildest myths and message of hate about the Muslims. When documentary evidence was needed to substantiate their allegations, they invented or forged them without any sense of responsibility of conscience. Their skill in inventing non-existent documents, and in a sense presenting the black as white, and in many cases getting away with it, is confirmed by numerous primary source material in the archives of many countries whose governments were often the target of such brain-washing.

By early 1913 the situation in the Ottoman Caliphate, as a result of the Christian agitation and intrigues with Russia, Britain, France, the USA and some of the other Powers, became so acute that it was prophesied in the British Foreign Office, that the break up of the Turkish Empire in Asia, as well as in Europe appeared not to be far. When the Ottoman Caliphate got involved in the Great War, the Christian subjects of the Sultan were persuaded to do intelligence work for the Allies, and to undermine the Muslim war effort by covertly collaborating with the enemies of the country. They indulged in agitation, espionage and revolutionary activities, with some of their leaders having secretly pledged their services to the enemy. The archives of the belligerents, particularly the Public Record Office in London, are full of documents indicating the extent of collaboration of many Ottoman Christians with those Powers that aimed at dismantling the Ottoman Caliphate and de-Islamising the Middle East. I have come across many of these secret documents and published them as a monograph in the Turkish Historical Society Magazine Bulletin.
It is easy to summarise, in the light of archival material, that there is a sinister ambition running through the secret policies of the Western Powers, to do their utmost to de-Islamise Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans, and to make Islam ineffective both in the Caucasus and the Middle East, by a policy of divide and rule. (Dr. S.R. Sonyel, paper presented at ICIS on 15 Feb 1993, London)


At the peak of its development the Islamic Empire extended over three continents -Europe, Asia, and Africa – covering much more territory than the Roman Empire before it. However, as Islamic civilization declined, it came to be increasingly challenged by another civilization originating in Europe. This modern amoral European civilization, which had its own religion, was then in its aggressive stage.

It was the people of this very civilization who brought the first Muslims to the western hemisphere. Most of the African slaves who were first uprooted from their homeland and shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas were Muslim. More than 150 million Africans were ‘exported’ during the slave trade mainly from West Africa, where many countries have majority Muslim populations even today.

Intellectual development then was high in the world of Islam particularly in the West African Mandingo State of Melle (Mali). The University of Timbuktu and the Sankure Masjid were the intellectual centres of Islam. Many of the slaves taken to the Americas were Mandingoes who spoke fluent Arabic and were knowledgeable in the Quran and the Islamic sciences.

A report by Robert R. Madden, one of the six special magistrates assigned to Jamaica in 1833 to carry out a scheme of ‘apprenticeship’ among salves corroborates this in his report: ‘They could all read and write Arabic. One of them showed me a Quran written from memory by one, Bejamin Cochrane, a free negro who practised with much success as a doctor in Kingston. He used to come to me on Sundays to give me information about medical plants and popular medicine of the country. A more intelligent and respectable person I do know.. .His history is that of hundreds of others in Jamaica…Cochrane says that his father was a Mandingo chief and that there were plenty of books in Mandingo country, but not in many schools; the great schools were farther up country. He had begun to study medicine in Mandingo country…’

European historians have distorted the facts to show Africans were savages without culture and civilization. They have done this to keep the African ignorant of his heritage and therefore subservient to the Europeans. This pattern is a carry-over from slavery. The slave had to be deculturalized in order to make his enslavement acceptable and total.

No slave was allowed to write or speak Arabic, or any African language for that matter. Performance of salat was punishable by flogging. Hajj was impossible. Pork was the main diet (apart from vegetables). The only form of assembly permitted was participating in Christian prayers with Christian preachers.

The result of this was that Islam died with the first African slaves. The second generation grew up as Christians and were taught that the black race was cursed by God and condemned to slavery. Thus, they came to accept their condition as being ordained by God.

Pure Christianity, like Islam, believes that all men are equal, but to justify the treachery the neo-Christians have distorted the scriptures. Thus the captives came to be regarded as property, not as human beings entitled to rights and liberties.

Paul B. Horton and Gerald R Leslie explains a little further in The Sociology of Social Problems: ‘The “all men are created equal” dictum did not apply to Negroes, since they were property and not men. Theories of a biblical Hamitic curse, of incomplete or separate evolutions, of geographic determinism, and of intelligence tests evidence were successively employed to justify the treatment of Negroes as inferiors. As long as such notions were believed and most people did believe them there was no inconsistency in professing democratic ideals while practising discrimination’.

Thus, both the slavemaster and the slave grew to accept slavery and to act out their roles. Of course, many African slaves rebelled and some even set up rebel communities of their own. Some of these communities still exist, but they have not preserved the spirit of Islam since they have been isolated from the mainsprings of Islamic culture.

Islam came to the Caribbean again in 1845 with the indentured labourers from India brought to fill the labour vacuum that was created when slavery was abolished and the African left the plantations.

Some historians say that the Africans regarded the Indians as ‘strike-breakers’ because had they not come, the plantations would have failed and probably fallen into the hands of the Africans. This may be one of the reasons for the friction between the Africans and Indians today in the Caribbean.

However, the indentured knew nothing of the politics of the West Indies. They were only interested in earning the small piece of the land on which they worked. In fact, many indentures did not know they were being taken halfway across the world to be used as scab workers; they were told that their jobs lay just across the bay and that they could return home anytime.

Since slavery had been officially abolished, their lot was a little easier than that of the Africans and they were able to preserve their Islamic traditions. Although Islam has thus remained alive in Trinidad and Tobago among the Indian community, racialism and Hindu practices have been attributed to it by the non-Indian population. Thus the biggest challenge facing Muslims today in the Caribbean is to extricate themselves from the mesh of racialism and Hinduism.[793] (For the roots of slavery read: Alex Haley, Roots and Dr. Y.N. Kly, The True Political Philosophy of Malcolm X).


InMarch 1492 Columbusmet withKingFerdinand and QueenIsabelinthe Alhambra, only two months after they had taken Granada. He came to solicit funds so he could sail westward to unknown lands across the Atlantic, the Arabs’ Sea of Darkness. By October ofthatyear hehadlandedintheBahamas andwasexploringthe Caribbean. Whatrelationdoesthishave five hundred years later withhowwe think about the discovery ofAmerica, and theconquest of Granada, the last Muslim outpost?

hi 1499, sevenyears after the tragic fall of Granada, CardinalXimenezdeCisneroscameto that city to break the 1491 treatythatthe Catholic monarch had signed with Boabdil, the last king of Granada, which among other matters, guaranteed Muslims’ religious rights. As Cisneros began to persecute the Granadine Muslims, this initiated areaction which turned him into amassmurderer as well as a cultural vandal. By 1502, three years later, valuable books, many of them with gold leaf, were seized fromprivate libraries in Granada, and burned publicly, while 2000 respectable matrons and maidens were sold at auction. Into what service, I might ask?

Was this Christian charity? The significance for us today, as we talk about the’ discovery of America’,isthatthesesamelawswerenextapphedjustasru1hlesslyinMexicobeginninginl521, andinYucatanandPeru,scarcelyaquarterofacenturylater. Thusthecampaignwasnotalocal aberrationinthelberianpeninsula, the archives and codices of the Aztecs andMayas also perished, so thathistoriansinlatercenturieshavecalledthe Mexicans andPeruvians ‘barbarians’ simply because they were left withno written history. The native Americans had history and laws, just as the Muslims of Granada represented a civilization that was then barbarized.

In 1521 various Pragmatica or official decrees were issued by the Castilian crown to regulate Muslim conduct under which among other things, Muslims were to leave their windows and doors open on Fridays and Islamic holidays, in a vulgar invasion of privacy, lest they be caught saying their prayers or celebrating a marriage or a funeral in their traditional manner. If they avoided pork and wine at meals, ‘familiars’ or busybody neighbours posted by the inquisition were encouraged to denounce them, so that might be carried off to jail. Their property was sold over their heads to pay for their keep in prison, with no concern for their wives or children, who were thrust out onto the streets.

This procedure was serious because as ‘lapsed Catholics’ who had been baptised forcibly, they could – and were – burned at the stake, cynically ‘to avoid bloodshed’! Hundreds of Muslims, if not thousands were murdered publicly in this fashion all up the East coast of Spain. Nothing to date has been done by the Spanish state to remedy this breach of human rights, which happened four or five hundred years ago, although its effects continue. Henry Lea of Philadelphia has described this campaign in The Moriscos of Spain, Their Conversion and Expulsion (Greenwood Press, New York, 1968).

The Pragmatica, as it was called, was revived in 1568, to harass the Muslims around Granada, who still believed in God Alone and prayed to Him, rather than to the trinity. This forced conformity led to the so-called Alpuj arras War that ruined that region in the mountains Southeast of Granada, which was devastated by Philip II’s half brother don Juan de Austria. To blot out a whole region is not rational economic policy, and Spain has suffered seriously for this judicial and military arrogance, or tughyan, the third deadly sin in Islam.

The Spanish Muslims produced great philosophers during their rule in the peninsula, specially during the Xllth century; thinkers who have not been matched until this present century such as Miguel de Unamuno and Ortega Gasset. They comprised men like Ibn Tufayl, who inspired Robinson Crusoe six centuries later in England; Ibn Rushd or ‘Averroes’ in foreign dress, who revived the study of Aristotle for the new universities that were arising in western Europe like Paris and Oxford; Ibn Khaldun from an exiled Sevillian family who founded the discipline of sociology and the philosophy of history two centuries later.

The concept of the Zero was brought by Maslamah of Madrid from the graduate schools of the Arab Near East which he attended, to free western Europe from the abacus whichthe Romans as well as the Chineseusedfortheir accounting. Al-Majriti or ‘the man fromMadrid(orMajrit) offers us our first glimpseofthe present Spanish capital which was then a hill town in central Spain. Majriti thus brought easier calculation to western Europe, as well as the astronomical Tables of Khwarizmi, aPersian scientist. Nonetheless although Toledo might have served as the basis for longitude, we now have Greenwich because the Reconquista that was coming did not know how to assimilate this broad asp ect of science.

hi Sicily another scientist of Spanish family, ash-Sharif al-Idrisi, made splendid world maps which are worth studying today. Idrisi reported that several young men from Lisbon in what is now Portugal, discovered the island of ‘Antilla’ in the XI century when they ventured out on the Atlantic from their city on the Portuguese coast. They returned, as did the Vikings from Norway and Iceland, and other sailors may have also come from Mali in West Africa – facts that are not included in our generally accepted histories, neither among westerners nor among Muslims. Instead, we are told that Spanish Muslims were ‘Moors’, as if they belonged to Africa, and should go back there, or be massacred as Cardinal Cisneros and his cohorts wanted them to be. Thus today the Mexican city of Matamoros opposite Brownsville in Texas, still means ‘Moor slayer’, and its name has not been changed.

Jinete, meaning ‘horsemen’ or ‘rider’, and zanahoria for ‘carrot’ are the only words of Berber or African origin generally used in Spanish speech today; the remaining vast borrowed vocabulary is Arabic and Asian, and relates to cultural and scientific matters. Just as silk and paper, and later gunpowder, reached Spain as industrial process and not mere articles of commerce, travelling 8000 long miles from China. On the other hand they never reached France, a few hundred miles to the northeast, until centuries later. Such was Islamic civilization in its westernmost outpost. The same can be said of the native civilization and culture of America before the advent of colonialisation.

The manufacture of tiles was also important, and reflects Islamic motifs. Three distinct types require three distinct methods of manufacture: concrete floor tiles for heavy traffic; ceramic wall tiles which are more delicate in design; and the red roof tiles that make Spanish roofs so distinct. Tiles spread their message of man’s endless search for God’s presence and Infinity, as we see today in the beautiful sidewalks of Rio de Janerio and other Latin American cities. Some day, somewhere, some young Muslim art or social science student may compile a survey of these endless patterns, to explain their Islamic content and message for tomorrow’s Muslims.

Agriculture benefitted too, bringing Middle Eastern improvements in irrigation and horticulture such as Eastern fruits: oranges, lemons, apricots and eggplants from Persia, sugarcane, bananas andricefromlndiatp Europe whichthenfoundtheirwayto America.

The fall of Granada in 1492 however was not entirely innocent, with the factionalism and in-fighting that took place among the Grenadine nobles, and their love of pleasure and intrigue. The last king Boabdil treated with the Catholic monarchs secretly, yet only received exile for his pains: ‘You weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man’, his mother chided him on their last view of the city at what is now called ‘The Moor’s Last Sign’ as they made their way to exile in Morocco.

The common people of Granada were left behind to bear the brunt of persecution and torture in Inquisitorial jails for the next century and a quarter: skilful artisans and shopkeepers described by Ibn-Khaldun and Ibn Battuta during their visits there, mule drivers and farmers whose womenfolk were rounded up and raped by don Juan de Austria’s soldiers, simple, honest folk who did not merit that fate. The Mexicans were subjected to similar treatment at almost the same time, massacred in Cholula and Tenochtitlan by Cortes. Their corn goddess was turned into a Virgin Guadalupe, a grotesque and pagan transformation that is still in effect. These are incidents which make Islamic Spain and Latin America kins. This tragedy is being repeated wholly by the Serbs in Bosnia in the late 20th Century.

Today we do not study Islam to seek out these truths of religion and history. Our youngsters should do so however, once they have been through the schools whose textbooks misinform them about these attitudes; they need to discover our Islamic facts concerning America, especially the Latin part of it where Spanish Muslims were indentured into the building trade and left their handiwork in decoration all the way from Guanajuato in Mexico to Cordoba in Argentina.

hi 1528 Bishop JuanZumarraga ordered the codices andbooks ofthe Aztecs to be destroyed, in the same fashion and under the same laws as Cardinal Cisneros had used in Granada when he terrorised that city. Then in 1562 Bishop Diego de Landa did the same with Mayan writings in Yucatan. The Mayas had discovered the Zero just as the Brahmans had in India, and Maslamah of Madrid had taken this concept to Spain about the year 1002. Mayan astronomy was as good as anything in Europe before the invention ofthe telescope, so that their calender was more accurate than ours is today. Their ob servatory still exists in Chichen Itza while another temple in that city displays muralsofabattlewith seafarers, who have been our boys from Lisbon, or Norsemen who travelled from Vinland.

What colony was founded by these overseas travellers, whether they were Norsemen, West Africans from Mali, or Andalusians from Lisbon, or even from one of Sinbad’s possible travels into the Pacific, so we can recover facts that warrant investigation? Four regicides or killings of native heads of state complete this picture, and blacken further the Spanish conquest: the last emperor of Mexico, Cuauhtemoc was tortured and then hanged by his legs by Cortes; Nicarao, the last king of Nicaragua who left his name to his country, was literally fed to starving dogs; the Inca Atahualpa was forcibly baptised as the Spanish Muslims were, and then strangled; Caupolican in Chile, was made to sit on a sharpened stake, ‘impaled’ as they called this gruesome death. These vulgar assassinations were used to terrorise the native Americans, and they were attended by the Spanish clergy, who must have given these barbarous ceremonies their approval.

The conduct has led to the ‘don Juan’ complex in Europe, and to machismo in America, when Spanish men knew that rebelling against their church could be fatal, so they turned instead to rebel against society, which forgave and admired them. Their offspring in America were the paledo or ‘peeled’ (of clothes and self-respect) vagrant in Mexico; the Chino de la calle or street urchin of Bogota; and the roto or ‘broken’ hanger-on in Chile. The Spanish state never taught the American colonies the art of governing themselves, while army rule with clerical collusion still prevents these countries from attaining a peaceful civil order.

1492 is not the only date to be commemorated. Several other dates need to be remembered in the next few years.

hi 1999, seven years from now we should commemorate, and act to rehabilitate the vandalism of Cardinal Cisneros in Granada, when he burned irreplaceable books and documents, and brutalised the matrons and young girls of that city, selling them off as ‘slaves’.

2009, to mark the 400th anniversary of Philip Ill’s decree of Expulsion of the remaining Spanish Muslims, when several hundred thousand or as many as two million Spanish citizens were forced to leave their country, without counting their children who were often orphaned and their wives made widows and into house servants or worse.

2021, on the anniversary of the proclamation of the Pragmatica which deprived Muslims of their normal civil rights.

All these dates should be recalled, and utilized for the purpose of rehabilitating Islam on the Iberian peninsula, and also to repeal any such laws that still prevail in the Americas. We should find common ground with the Mexicans and other Latin Americans, who have suffered those abuses over the past four hundred years. President Menem of Argentina, for instance had to become a Catholic before he could run for president, while Islamic names are forbidden in that country.

The Jews have received redress for the abuses they suffered in that same era and in a formal ceremony that was witnessed by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia earlier this year in the new synagogue in Madrid. Muslims will probably require a longer campaign for redress, but with Muslim governments now active in several countries, they should be able to obtain such rehabilitation.

Thedangerisstillrealhowever: the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s underthe army and the church which led to the 3 5 -year Franco dictatorship, saw men and women shot without trial, like Garcia Lorca in Granada, and often onmere suspicion, for the simple delusion that othersfeltthey were’communists’. Thisuglywartookplace in thiscentury of dictatorship. This XXIst century of the West, and the XVth of Islam, must be seen animprovement in this system that started simultaneously with Columbus’s historic voyage to the Caribbean. As I said, the danger is still real, and we should face reality.[794] With the demise of European colonial powers the USA filledup the vacuum in Americas and continued the process.

For those interested to follow this point, Prof. Chomsky’s “The Conquest Continues” and Prof. John Esposito’s “The Islamic Threat: Myth Or Reality” are very useful sources of illustrated and well substantiated information.

In this book Chomsky presents a short but compact analysis of US imperialism starting with the landing of Columbus in the Americas in 1492. The sequence of events that started with the slaughter of the indegenous inhabitants of 1492 has been a continuum of conquest and genocide by the Europeans who settled the Americas, first against the indigenous population and then against the rest of the world (after the near-total elimination of these indigenous populations). Chomsky’s emphasis is on US imperi­alism as the embodiment of that heritage of barbarism. As the book proceeds, some novel features of US imperialism are highlighted by Chomsky lest one might think that the Americans have simply copied old practices without adding any genuine contri­bution. The book consists of a large number of quotations and sayings of politicians and media, but Chomsky’s ability to link these sayings into a uniform structure of thought and comment on them with such penetrating sarcasm is stunning. Contrary to what many people in the Third World have come to believe, the US is still a racist country. Racism is not limited to that against the indigenous inhabitants of America which was revealed by more than one ‘civilized’ president declaring that these people did not deserve to live. The only vice these people have committed has been their inability to kill for the sake of killing. American racism goes beyond its native land to cover all non-European peoples all over the world. It is unique due to the fact that many of the US citizens have immigrated from the Third World. Yet, in a somehow uniquely American way, they become just as much racist as their white masters.

Chomsky starts Chapter 1 with a defination of the New World Order ending Oct. 11 1992, ‘the 500 year Reich’. He also defines Europe, quite fittingly, to include the Europe an-settled colonies, with Japan rich enough to qualify. Chomsky’s contempt for capitalism and its imperialist sustainer is evident in starting Chapter 1 of the book and continually throughout the book quoting Adam Smith. Adam Smith, for Chomsky, epitomizes European racism in saying “There are but two nations in America in any respect superior to savages {Peru, Mexico}, and these were destroyed almost as soon as discovered. The rest were mere savages.” The conquest of the New World set off two demographic catastophes – the virtual destruction of the indegenous population and the depletion of Africa through the slave trade needed to cultivate the New World. Chomsky does not miss the concurrence of the fall of Granada in Spain in 1492 with that of the landing of Columbus. There is a striking similarity between the massacres of the indigenous peoples of America and the mass destruction and expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain. By highlighting this similarity, Chomsky exposes a unique feature of European imperialism. While all imperialists share a common strand of exploitation, none of the previous imperialists of the Greek, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans practised similar racist policies to those of the Europeans, hi these old empires, the indigenous inhabitants were allowed to get on with their lives as long as they acquiesced and paid the imposed taxes, hi the case of European imperialism two new policies were introduced, namely extermination and expulsion. Not a single place that was colonized by the Europeans escaped one or both fates.

The Spanish-Portuguese conquest was soon to be continued by other colonialists, namely the Dutch and the English. Chomsky pays special attention to the English brutality in suppressing the “dirty cowkeeping Celts on England’s fringes”, perhaps on the assumption that these brutalities were the roots of later genocide in the New World. As Adam Smith noted, Europe’s success was due to its mastery of the means of violence. Chomsky informs us that “hi the American colonies, the natives were astonished by the savagery of the Spanish and British”. The process of subjugation was consolidated, notes Chomsky, through the transformation of trading areas outside Europe from free trade into trade as extension of the state, thus ensuring commercial colonization of the world outside Europe. The British seemed to have learnt from the Spanish failures. While the latter, in implementing liberalism, allowed non-Spanish merchants to profit in their trading do-= mains, the British ensured that only British-chartered monopolies were allowed to operate in the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Chomsky pays special attention to a living example of conquest and pillage, namely Bengal, Dacca, the city of misery today, that used to be known as the Manchester of India, was a flourishing city of 150,000 inhabitants in 1757 dropping to 30,000 by 1840. Bengal’s produce of fine silk became extinct and Bengal was forced to grow indigo and jute. Britain on the other hand decimated the Indian textile industry by forbidding the import of printed fabric from India. Under British rule, Indian textile, ship building, metal works, glass and paper industries declined as India became an agricultural colony of industrial England. Similar policies were imple­mented by the French in Algeria forcing the growing of grapes for French wine, and by the British in Egypt forcing cotton as the only agricultural product. Chomsky finds time to ridicule two prominent British, Lord Cromer, ruler of Egypt, and Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, who spoke of the nobility of British colonialism.

Esposito uses a quote from William Pfaff s ‘Help Algeria’s Fundamentalists’ to introduce his work – “There are good many people who think that the war between Communism and the west is about to be replaced by a war between the west and Muslims”. Islam is seen as the new enemy of the West: “To some Americans, searching for a new enemy against whom to test our mettle and power after the death of Communism, Islam is the preferred antagonist.” Esposito gives us a historical and present-day account to illustrate this mutual distrust and condemnation. It began from the rapid rise and expansion of the Islamic Empire. Islamic civilization was a direct threat to Christendom’s place in the world both theologically and politi­cally, as confirmed by Maxime Rodinson: “The Muslims were a threat to the West long before they became a problem”. Five centuries of peaceful coexistence were suddenly shattered by a series of holy wars which forced Christianity to condemn Islam and left the legacy of scepticism and misconception. It is the conquests of the crusaders and the Ottoman Empire which constitutued what is now known as the ‘Islamic Threat’. This consciousness of Western Europe produced distorted images of Islam and Muslims, and maintained the ignorance and cultural stereotyping of Arabs and Islam. Arabs today are branded nomads, oil Shaikhs, inhabitants of the desert, chattel, harems and irrational people. When one mentions ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’ in the West, imminent presuppositions are made – holy war, anti-Western fanaticism, violence, intolerance and oppression.

Esposito points out that it is not ‘Fundamentalism’ as such, but an Islamic revival, which is viewed as a deathblow to reason and common sense. It threatens not only the ideas of Western government and multinational, but also the interests of Muslim secular elites. The west fails to acknowledge that it is their presuppositions, their continued emphasis on individualism and modernisation, which calls for the resurgence of Islam in Muslim societies.

Esposito attempts to persuade his audience that Islamic movements are inevitable, since European Imperialism caused the struggle for independ­ence from Colonial rule. Foreign domination and dependence on the West remains a polemic today, a continued threat in the eyes of many Muslims in areas ranging from politics to rehgio-cultural identity and history. This has raised new questions and challenged beliefs and practices. Muslim views began to move from rejection and confrontation to admiration and imitation. Europe came to the region not only with its armies of bureaucrats and soldiers but also with its Christian missionaries. The double threat of colonialism was the Crown and the Cross. The author uses the Grand Mosque of Algiers as an example to back his argument: its conversion into the Cathedral of Saint Philippe, with the French flag and the cross on its minaret symbolised the threat of Christianity. This sort of experience, coupled with the defeat of Arab forces in the Six-Day War, caused much humiliation to Arab/Muslim pride and self esteem, and thus the quest for identity espoused Islamic activism. The Arab/Muslim looked upon Islam as the only source which could provide a self-sufficient idealogy for state and society, an alternative to secular nationalism, socialism and capitalism. In his book Esposito frequently condemns American ignorance and hostil­ity towards Islam and the Middle East. Orientalism and Zionism consti­tuted the misguided US political-military policies.


[667] Eruslanov, pp.5-6, p.9, p.13, p.20, p.36, p.38-39(p.I, p.243)

[668] Broomhall,p.226; Grosier; tome IV, p.508;Nasil, p.15

[669] Broomhall, p.237

[670] HenrySolM Voyage to Abyssinia, p.299 (London, 1814)

[671] Ibid, p. 186, p.228 (p.I, p.311)

[672] Arnold, P.I, p\311

[673] Delhiersant,tomeii,p.367,p.372

[674] Islam andMission, pp.71 -3; TheMuslim World, pp.296-7, p.351

[675] Lippert, U.B. H. U. T.K., p.200, Moses, Band (1907) Abteihng HI (p.I, p.342)

[676] 1901, vol. W,Bengal, part 1,appendix 11 (p.I, p.223)

[677] Gazetteer of the Province ofOudh, vol. 1, p.XIX

[678] B.duHalde,ZXG.#.C.P..P.£.C.tome,iii,p.64(Paris, 1735)

[679] Anderson, p.I 51, Grosier, tome, IV, p.507; Mission de Ollone, p.279; R.du M.M., tome IX, pp.577-8(p.I,p.31O)

[680] Maqari,vol. ll,p.IXV

[681] R.duM.M.,vol l,p.l69,p.599(p.I,p.388)

[682] Kam,p.233

[683] SirBartleFrere(l), pp.18-9

[684] B.Smi1h,MA/.,pp.253-4

[685] Ibid,p.256

[686] Ibid, pp.25 8-9

[687] H.J. Schoops,i?.M,p.236

[688] S.G.F. Brmdon, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, Ch.Islam

[689] G.E. Morrison, CAM., p.37

[690] Ibid, p. 40

[691] T. Ling, A History of Religion, p.301

[692] Ibid,pp.301-2

[693] Ibid,p.327

[694] Religion in the Middle East, vol. 2,pp.l21-2

[695] C.E. Farah, Islam, p.210

[696] Ibid,p.218

[697] Ibid,p.266

[698] Religion in the Middle East, vol. 2, p. 122

[699] H.Gibb,5.C./.,p.28


[701] For this see, for example, Abd al -Qadir As-Sufi, the author of The Way ofMuhammad, and English convert to Islam who has even adopted ‘As-Sufi’ as his surname. Also see the writings of Hajj Abd ar-Rahman Wolf, editor oil slam, anotiier English convert to Islam

[702] H.Gibb,5.C./.,pp.l82-3

[703] Ibid, p. 186

[704] A. Arberry, A spects of Islamic Civilization, p.16

[705] Religion in the Middle East, vol. 2, pp.218-9

[706] Ibid, p.223

[707] D. MucDonald, Aspects oflslam, p.283

[708] Ibid,p.27O

[709] Ibid,p.273

[710] A. Guillaume,/steM, p.78; see also Noldeke, S.E.H., p.74

[711] See Ibn Khaldoon, History of the Conquest of Egypt, Vol. 1

[712] R.Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, P.101, appended VIpp.308FF

[713] Baladhuri, p.280 (Futuh alBuldan ed. MJ de Goeje, Leiden 1866)

[714] Ibid, p.373

[715] Tabari, Series 1, pp.2778-9 Quoted by R. Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, p.62 (G.B. 1975)

[716] R. Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, p.62

[717] Ismail Ragi al-Faruqi, The Great Asian Religions, p.312

[718] Quran, AfaHasibtom AnnamaKhalanakoom Abatha.

[719] This point has been made in Hie Quran very frequently, e.g. 107:1 -7

[720] Quran, 2-268

[721] Quran, 2-268

[722] Ibid, 7-32,33

[723] Norman Daniel, Islam and the West, p.293

[724] For another Modern Islamic Opinion witii the same tendency see M.M. Alia: Islam is for this World and for the next World, p.202

[725] Charis Waddy, The Muslim Mind, p .3 8-9 Quoting from Dr. Hassan Hathout, Special Paper.

[726] The Quran, 49,10

[727] For further details, see President Jamal Abd al-Nasser, Speech Quoted by Orient, Vol, IX, no. 32133,1964-5 pp. 305-7 (French).

[728] Charis Waddy, The Muslim Mind, p. 171

[729] Reade, Savage Africa, 584-5

[730] Cambridge History of Africa, Vol. 2, p.484

[731] Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 1865

[732] CJ/./Vol. 5, p.304

[733] Ibid, Vol. 3, p.2

[734] Cresentlnt. 15 Oct 1989

[735] Ibid, 16 Dec 1991

[736] A. Guillaume, Islam p.79, also see B. Lewis, The Arabs pp.49-53

[737] Ibid, pp.79-80

[738] Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 1, p.27

[739] Louis E. Sweet, People andCultures of the Middle East, vol. 1, pp.56-7

[740] B.Lewis, 1950; p.32

[741] D.O’Leary,1927,p.l61

[742] T.Noldeke,5.£/f.,p.74

[743] Ibid,p.75

[744] Ibid, p. 86

[745] M.N. Roy, Historical Role of Islam, Introduction

[746] deGabinear(l),pp.55-6(p.I,p.2O9)

[747] Baladuri,p.47

[748] Cambridge History oflslam, vol. 1, p.287

[749] K. Scott,AHistory ofChristianity, p.287

[750] Ibid

[751] L. Stoddard, N.W.I., Introduction

[752] A. Guillaume, Islam, p. 8 5

[753] B. Lewis, The Arabs, p. 121

[754] H. Gibb, Muhammadanism, p.4 (2nd Ed.)

[755] Baladuri, op.cit, pp.165-211 abridged(Hill’strans.)
[756] For details concerning political and social circumstances at the time of the rise oflslam, see B. Smith’s Mohammad andMohammadanism, Ch. 2

[757] A. Toynbee, A study of History, Index, Islam

[758] K.S. Latoarette,AHistory of Christianity, p.288 (N.Y., 1953)

[759] Ibid,p.289

[760] Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, p .206, article by H. Gibb and H. Kramers

[761] Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, p.526

[762] Philip Hitti, History of The Arabs, The Macmillan Company, N.Y., 1937, p. 153

[763] QuotedbyPhilipHitti,ff./4.,p.l53

[764] K. Savage, The Hi story of World Religions, p.126 (London, 1st Ed., 1960)

[765] Ibid

[766] B.Lewis, The Arabs (1950), pA%

[767] Gbotei, Byzantine, vol. 11, p.437, p.72

[768] Renaudat,p.l61;Seureus,p.lO6(p.I,p.lO3)

[769] JohnofNiki,p.560

[770] Urquhart, quoted by Clark, Races ofEu ropean Turkey, p. 8 2

[771] Karamsin,vol.V,p.437(p.I,p.l50)

[772] The Quran, 16, 124; 6, 162; 2, 129; 3, 89-90; 4, 124; 22, 77

[773] Arnold, p.I, p.75

[774] Arnold, p.I,p.298

[775] Ibid,p.297
[776] Pashley, vol. ii, pp. 151-2 (p.I, p.206)

[777] Caetani, vol.11, p.910 (A. deGobineau), pp.55-8 (p.I, p.209)

[778] J.H. Moor (Appendix), p.37;Dalrymple, p.549

[779] Arnold Toynbee, An Historian’s Approach to Religion, p. 162

[780] B. Smith, Mohammad, p .39, quoting from an official British Government Blue Book

[781] O’Leary, Islam at the Cross Roads, p.91

[782] Ibid

[783] Keith Lightfoot, The Philippines, p.70

[784] Ibid,p.61

[785] Ibid, p.62

[786] Keith Lightfoot, The Philippines, p.70

[787] G. Zaide, Philippine Political andCultural History (Manila 1953).

[788] K. Lightfoot, The Philippines, p.104

[789] C./f.AVol.4,p.529

[790] Maryam Jameelah, Islam, p.41 (Lahore 1977)

[791] Impactlnt. Sept 1984, Ibrahim Suleman

[792] Cres. Int. 1-15 March 1992

[793] O.M. WaleB. Muhammad. Creslnt. 1 -15 June 1988

[794] Dr. T.B. Irving, Impactlnt, October 1992








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