The Birth of Islam and Its Influence

by Rabie Abdel-Halim Published on: 26th November 2021

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The verification of knowledge and its classification into various disciplines according to some well-defined criteria, together with the use of logical analysis and analogical reasoning, as in the Principles of Jurisprudence science, denote the development of creative and critical thinking amongst Muslims long before the cultivation of natural sciences...

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Note of the Editor:  We are pleased to announce the publication of Dr Rabie E. Abdel-Halim’s 1001 Cures: Introduction to the History of Islamic Medicine as the second in the series of 1001 Cures books with this article “The Birth of Islam and Its Influence” from Chapter Two, Pages 64-69, published by the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation (FSTC).

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2.1 The Qur’ān and Its Influence

In Arabia around the middle of the 7th century, the miracle of a new Prophet, Prophet Muḥammad (Peace be upon Him), and the religion of Islam arose for the whole world and all nations, as stated in the following verse:

The Qur’ān and the life example of Prophet Muḥammad (Peace be upon Him) are the only reliable sources available to mankind to learn God’s Will in its totality.

Muḥammad (Peace be upon Him) is the Messenger of God for the whole of mankind, and the long chain of Prophets came to an end with him. He was the final Prophets and all of God’s instructions for mankind which were conveyed through direct revelation were sent through Muḥammad (Peace be upon Him) and are enshrined in the Qur’ān and Sunnah.

[Qur’ān 7:158]

The holy Qur’ān is the miracle of the illiterate final Prophet Muḥammad (Peace be upon Him), the actual words of God in their pristine purity and fully preserved, with not a syllable altered or left out is easily read and understood by all people, educated or otherwise. The language of the Qur’ān is Arabic, a remarkable, virile, living, flexible and picturesque language, which millions of people speak and understand. It is also simple to teach and to learn. The Qur’ān itself is a strong persuasive testimony to its divine origin since, although it is in the Arabic language (the mother tongue of the Arabs the Meccan pagans failed to produce the like of it, indicating that it is miraculous in terms of not only its language but also its style, argument, themes, topics, teachings and prophecies. The devotion of one-third of the Qur’ānic verses to describing the virtues of intellect denotes the importance of reason in the religion of Islam. The reason is the divine provision to man over other beings for the purpose of perceiving things outside his essence through his ability to think, which is something beyond his senses. Therefore, the Qur’ān showed that polytheism is just a blind imitation of ancestors and not based on any spiritual attitude of mind…

2.2 The Spread of Islam 

[Qur’ān 49:13]

Once the Muslim faith had arisen, its influence quickly moved beyond Arabia and Muslims became zealous in the task of the fuller working out of human destiny. Their leaders held a guarantee of light and happiness for the world. This offered the promise of turning humanity into a single divinely-guided society. The Divine Word had illuminated all the avenues of life for them and had enabled them to progress towards a destination which they clearly envisaged.19 It was the most extraordinary event in human history, in terms of character, scope and influence upon the destinies of the human race from the borders of India to Spain.

The Arabs were brave with a very strong degree of determination, patience, perseverance and trust in God. Their remarkable, virile, flexible and picturesque language spread throughout their domain. It was the language of literature, art, and science and learned men employed it in their writings and communication. The Arabic language was the scientific language of mankind and became the medium of expression for nearly half of the world during that period. The Arabs allowed a free and equal partnership with all nations in the establishment of a new socio-political structure and in the advancement of mankind towards a fuller and richer moral ideal. In the religion of Islam, there are no national divisions, no colour bars, no vested interests, no priesthood and no hereditary nobility in the Islamic commonwealth as stated in the following verse:

2.3 The Development of Islamic Traditional Sciences

Long before the cultivation of the natural sciences, Muslims focused tremendous intellectual activity on the numerous fields of knowledge of the Islamic tradition. They focused on its organisation into numerous academic disciplines: Qur’ānic sciences, Jurisprudence, Principles of Jurisprudence and the Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah). Classification and order were introduced into each discipline according to well-defined criteria and the various technical terminologies were refined. Each discipline had its own authorities. The Qur’ānic sciences from 642 to 778, for example, were guided by Saʿīd ibn Jubayr, Mujāhid ibn Jabr, Ḥasan al-Baṣrī and Sufiān al-Thawrī. In Jurisprudence and the Principles of Jurisprudence, from 713 to 795, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAmr al-‘Awzāʿī, ʿUrwah ibn al-Zubayr and Mālik ibn ‘Anas were recognised authorities. This was in addition to the collection and documentation of the Prophetic Tradition science as laid out in al-Muwaṭṭa’ (The Book of the Well-Trodden Path) written by Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 795). Thus, the cultivated traditional sciences achieved excellence and refinement before the end of the 8th century. In addition, the auxiliary sciences of the Arabic language were connected with the Qur’ān and Sunnah and it was possible for Muslims to make use of them. They were studied and classed into various disciplines. The authorities in those sciences were: Abu al-Aswad al-Du’alī, Abu ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAlā’, al-Khalīl ibn ʿAḥmad al-Farāhīdī and ʿAmr ibn Qunbur Sibawaih from 688 to 796.

Therefore, the verification of knowledge and its classification into various disciplines according to some well-defined criteria, together with the use of logical analysis and analogical reasoning, as in the Principles of Jurisprudence science, denote the development of creative and critical thinking amongst Muslims long before the cultivation of natural sciences.33 Ancient Sciences: Collection and Translation.

2.4 Ancient Sciences: Collection and Translation

The Muslims were inspired by their belief in the love of learning and the importance of a willful acquisition of knowledge. Therefore, they assiduously collected, through a variety of routes, the remaining sources on classical learning and sciences which mainly survived in the monasteries of the conquered territories.34 Additional ancient books were obtained as a result of the mission of Khalīfah al-Ma’mūn to the Emperor of Byzantium and through the cooperation of priests who knew of locked temples in which the books had been abandoned for more than 700 years. Meanwhile, in Jundishapur, medical school teaching was based on translated knowledge from Greek, Syriac, Persian, Indian and even Chinese sources.37 Thus, the introduction of science into Islamic civilisation was a willful act of acquisition on the part of some historical persons who had a vested interest in acquiring those sciences. It did not come to Islamic civilisation by some natural process of contact with other civilisations. This should not be surprising in the light of several accounts of the dearth of scientific books in Byzantium at that time…

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