Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and by Akbar S. Ahmed

By Akbar S. Ahmed

Now reissued with a brand new advent, Discovering Islam is a vintage account of ways the background of Islam and its relatives with the West have formed Islamic society at the present time. Islam is usually caricatured as competitive and enthusiast. Written within the culture of Ibn Khaldun, this readable and wide-ranging booklet balances that picture, uncovers the roots of Islamic discontent and celebrates the assets of its power. From the 4 "ideal Caliphs" who succeeded the Prophet to the refugee camps of Peshawar, an aim photograph emerges of the most good points of Muslim background and the compulsions of Muslim society.

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They take the easy way out, blaming ‘outside’ forces, Mongols or Europeans. It is tempting to view history in this light. For an Arab 1258 truly marks the end of world domination. For Europeans it establishes the arguments for a disintegrating, decadent, corrupt Muslim Orient waiting for reform and a superior, Western, civilization. This is an incorrect reading of Muslim history. These theories are part of established wisdom; they are also a substitute for thought and inquiry. We view Islamic history, it is suggested, not as the rise and fall of the Arab dynasties.

Biographical and hagiographical works on the Prophet continue to flow from the pens of Muslims. A Professor in Multan recently compiled a list of 2,713 biographical books and pamphlets in Pakistani languages under the title ‘Voice of Truth’. Muslim writers still fall into the trap of first condemning Western sources as biased and then citing them whenever favourable. Perhaps this is a lingering 26 MUSLIM IDEAL sense of inferiority from the colonial days. Sarwar’s Muhammad the Holy Prophet, published in Lahore, begins with the impassioned plea that the West has always misunderstood the Prophet.

The battle of Qadsya, fought in 635 against the Persians, was one of the most critical battles in history because it would reverberate up to the present. In the same year the Muslims decisively beat the Christians at Yarmuk. The confidence and panache of the early Muslims were unbounded, full of the freshness of the desert air. They were bringing a message of salvation to the world—moving in the path of Allah, fi sabil Allah. Khalid wrote to the chiefs of Persia: In the name of God, the Merciful and the Compassionate.

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