Aug 13, 2014, 11:17 AM
Intellectuals have appraised the Islamic civilization from manifold perspectives, writing multifarious books and articles in this regard. Unfortunately thought, the fundamental and inimitable role of the holy Prophet (s) in the establishment of this great civilization has been mostly disregarded. The competent hands of the Prophet (s) planted the sapling of this mighty tree, and he subsequently consolidates its roots by immigrating to the city of Yathrib (i.e. modern-day Madinah).
In this paper, the central parameters of civilization according to various scholars have been examined and the role of the honourable Prophet (s) in creating peace, security, national solidarity, cooperation, and in engendering ethics, patience, unity, and relative welfare-all influential factors in the formation and development of civilizations-has been elucidated..
Islamic civilization cultivated the greatest of cognitive orders and scientific systems-producing numerous paragons of intellectuality in various fields of knowledge. The rapid development, greatness, perfection, and expansiveness of the Islamic civilization as well as the participation of various social classes from many different nationalities and races in founding and developing this civilization are facts that inspire awe into the hearts of all and sundry. The profundity of this matter has caused many scholars, especially Western ones, to confess to this truth. Even so,
I must note that the golden age Islam-with respect to intensity, vivacity, realization of ideas, manifestation of values, as well as religious and spiritual radiance-was the age of the holy Prophet (s) and the period of Islamic stability in Madinah. Just as a tree grows from a planted seed with the passage of time by absorbing nutrition from fertile soli, a few centuries after being planted by the blessed hands of the great Prophet(s), the tree of Islamic civilization has become prolific with the fruit of culture and art, as well as the traditional, intellectual, and literary sciences.
Utilizing the dictates of divine revelation, and with the help of the holy Prophet (s), Islamic civilization transcended various stages of maturity and perfection. Swiss scholar Adam Matts termed the fourth century of the Hijrah the ‘age Islamic innovation’ (Matts, 1985). Sigrid Hunke considers the growth of Islamic civilization to be twice that of Greek civilization. She has professed that Muslims influenced the Western world more directly and multifariously than Greece.
Moreover, Hunke has stated that just as Muslims have transformed the face of the earth in the past, perhaps soon the destinies of the rest of the world will intertwine with that of Muslims (Hunke, 1982).
Thus, the role of the holy Prophet (s) with regards to those parameters that are instrumental in the formation and development of human civilizations shall be examined.
DEFINTION OF TAMADDUN (LIT. CIVILIZATION)
Literal sense: the word tamaddun derives from the Arabic root madana meaning ‘dwelling’ and attaining customs of city dwellers’. It has also been defined as individual of a society becoming accustomed to cooperation in social, economic, religious, political, and similar affairs (Moeen, 1992).
Even though in both Eastern and Western languages, connection with cities and city dwelling is a criterion for civilization, it must be noted that civilization does not necessarily mean ‘living in a city.’ A civilised human is a person that has entered the city dwelling stage. In fact, living in a city be said that cities are a part is civilization, not that cities have formed civilization (Bernal, 1966). Will Durant is of the opinion that it is civilization that makes people think of building cities and metropolises. He states that, in a way, civilization merges with the disposition of courtesy and sociability, which in turn, make up the pleasant morals that obtain in, civilize.
Terminological definition: civilization has been variously defined; Will Durant defines it as a social system that facilitates cultural achievement and undertakes innovation and creativity by drawing on thoughts customs, traditions, and art; a political system that is protected by morals and laws; and an economic system that endures with the continuance of production.
Islamic savants have specific definitions for civilization as well. Ibn Khaldun considers civilization to be the social state of humans (Kahldun, 1996). In the opinion of Ibn Khaldun, a society becomes a ‘civilization’ if it accepts order through the establishment of authority, forms a governmental infrastructure to supervise the preservation of order, eschews solitary life in favour of city life, and promotes the exaltation of inner virtues such as science and art.
Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari has defined civilization as a ‘coordinated institution of humans, living rationally and associating justly, with the communion of all individuals and groups towards advancing the material and spiritual aims of people in every positive area’ (Ja’fari, 1980).
As a summation of the above definitions, the following could be said: Civilization is a product of cultural exaltation and acceptance of order. It is a departure from tribal life and treading the path of institutionalized sociality or, in the concise words of Ibn Khaldun, it is development.
INFLUENTIAL FACTORS IN THE FORMATION AND ASCENDENCY OF CIVILIZATION
Various factors influence the establishment and ascendency of a civilization. Scholars have presented these factors variously.
Will Durant believes that the emergence of civilization is possible when anarchy and disorder end, since it is only when fear passes that curiosity as well as the need for innovation and invention come into action. Thus, humans surrender to the instinct that naturally propels them toward gaining wisdom and knowledge and procuring provisions with which to improve the quality of life.
Ibn Khaldun has named seven influential factors in the formation of a civilization, viz. government and leadership, religious or conventional law, ethics, work, industry, population and wealth. In the view of Ibn Khaldun, the first three elements are the most important (Radmanesh, 1978).
As a sum-up of various opinions, the following may be considered a list of influences on civilization formation.
Peace and security;
National solidarity, which is truly the soul of every civilization, a factor that provides the necessary motivation and institutes purposive cooperation;
Tolerance of dissimilar views (i.e., treating others with understanding not indifference or negligence);
Preservation of unity and struggle against separatism;
Religion; and Relative welfare.
ESTABLISHMENT OF PEACE AND SECURITY
The Islamic civilization was set in motion with the Prophet’s (s) calling in Makkah. It secured a foothold with the establishment of government in Madinah, where Islamic administration and city life coalesced. During the initial years when Muslims lived in Makkah, the Quraysh tribe greatly endeavoured to prevent people from accepting Islam. Moreover, the Makkahn polytheists spared on effort to torment newly converted Muslims.
The economic blockade of the people of Bani Hashim in Shi’b Abi Talib (Abi Talib Pass), not to mention the deaths of lady Khadijah (a) and Abu Talib, who were among the powerful supporters of the Prophet (s) and the Muslims, had divested Muslims of peace and security. The Prophet (s) required a safe and secure base to establish a truly great civilization. Therefore, he travelled to the city of Ta’if in search of such a place for the Muslims who were under pressure. Unfortunately, the journey was unfruitful as the personages of Ta’if did not respond to his call. The even incited ruffians and ignorant people to drive the Prophet (s) out of the city (Shahidi, 1985).
To be continued