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1 Islam An historical introduction The New Edinburgh Islamic Surveys Series Editor: Carole Hillenbrand FORTHCOMING TITLES Introduction to Islamic Law Mawil Izzi Dien Islamic Aesthetics Oliver Leaman Islamic Jurisprudence Kevin Reinhart and Aron Zysow Modern Arabic Literature Paul Starkey Understanding the Qur’an Alford Welch TITLES AVAILABLE IN THE ISLAMIC SURVEYS SERIES Media Arabic Julia Ashtiany Bray An Introduction to the Hadith John Burton A History of Islamic Law Noel Coulson A Short History of the Ismailis Farhad Daftary A History of Christian–Muslim Relations Hugh Goddard Shi’ism Heinz Halm Islamic Science and Engineering Donald Hill Persian Historiography Julie Scott Meisami Muslims in Western Europe Jørgen Nielsen Islamic Names Annemarie Schimmel Islamic Medicine Manfred Ullman A History of Islamic Spain W. Montgomery Watt and Pierre Cachia Introduction to the Qur’an W. Montgomery Watt Islamic Creeds W. Montgomery Watt Islamic Philosophy and Theology W. Montgomery Watt Islamic Political Thought W. Montgomery Watt Islam An historical introduction SECOND EDITION GERHARD ENDRESS translated by CAROLE HILLENBRAND EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY PRESS First edition © Edinburgh University Press and Carole Hillenbrand, 1988 Reprinted in paperback 1994 Second edition © Edinburgh University Press, Gerhard Endress and Carole Hillenbrand, 2002 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Typeset in Goudy by Koinonia, Manchester, and printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall A CIP Record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 7486 1620 9 (paperback) The right of Gerhard Endress and Carole Hillenbrand to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Contents List of illustrations Preface Note on the transliteration viii ix x 1 INTRODUCTION: THE CONCEPT AND UNITY OF ISLAMIC HISTORY 1 2 EUROPE AND ISLAM: THE HISTORY OF ISLAMIC STUDIES IN THE WEST 5 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Early studies of Islam in the context of religious war From confrontation to co-existence The beginnings of Islamic studies The rise of Oriental philology ‘Historicism’ and the opening up of the sources Islam as a field of scholarship Research in Islam in East and West: encounter and conflict 3 ISLAM: RELIGION AND LEGAL SYSTEM 1. The Revelation 2. The development of religious doctrine a) Islamic history and the history of Islam b) From civil wars to schism c) Between theology and tradition: the development of dogma d) Asceticism, mysticism and the religious orders 3. Law and government a) The foundation of Islamic law b) Government, legislation and the administration of justice c) The classical schools of law d) The state in the light of legal theory 6 8 9 11 13 16 17 21 22 31 31 33 43 51 55 55 59 62 67 vi Contents 4 THE ISLAMIC WORLD: SOCIETY AND ECONOMY 1. 2. 3. 4. Arabia: landscape and history at the beginning of Islam Bedouins and sedentary peoples Agricultural economy, taxation and land tenure Urban society and economy 5 A REGIONAL VIEW OF ISLAMIC HISTORY 1. 2. 3. 4. 72 72 74 78 83 96 The Arabian peninsula Syria and Palestine Iraq The West a) Spain b) North Africa Egypt Iran Anatolia The further lands of Islam 97 97 99 101 101 102 103 104 107 108 6 PERIODS OF ISLAMIC HISTORY 110 5. 6. 7. 8. 1. Arabia before Islam (until c. 610 ad) 2. Mu˙ammad: the mission of the Arab Prophet and the first Islamic state (c. 610–32) 3. The caliphate until the end of the Umayyads (632–750) a) The period of the ‘Orthodox’ caliphs (al-RÅshidËn, 632–61): the emergence of the Arab state b) The caliphate of the Umayyads (661–750) 4. The caliphate of the ÆAbbÅsids and its successor states from 749 until the middle of the 11th century a) The first century of the ÆAbbÅsids (749–847) b) The decline of the caliphate (9th–10th centuries) c) The rise of local autonomous states and the successor states of the caliphal empire (c. 850–c. 1055) 5. The Seljuq period (c. 1055–c. 1258) a) The Seljuqs (Iran and Iraq, 11th–12th centuries; in Anatolia until the 13th century) b) Syria and Egypt under the Atabegs and AyyËbids; the Islamic confrontation with the Crusaders; the final phase of the ÆAbbÅsid caliphate (12th–mid-13th centuries) c) Almoravids and Almohads in North Africa and Spain (1056–1269) 111 111 112 112 114 115 115 116 117 119 119 120 121 Contents 6. The Mongol period from the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols to the establishment of the Ottoman empire in the Near East (1258–1517) a) The Mongol invasion and the Mongol period in the Islamic east (13th–15th centuries) b) The MamlËks in Egypt and Syria (1250–1517) The emergence of the Ottoman empire c) The west under the last Berber dynasties (mid-13th–mid-16th centuries) 7. The Ottoman period (16th–18th centuries) a) The Ottoman empire b) North Africa c) Iran from the Íafavid period d) India under the Mughal emperors (1526–1858) 8. The emergence of national states. Westernisation and reform (from the beginning of the 19th century) vii 122 122 124 125 125 125 127 127 128 128 7 APPENDIX: LANGUAGES, NAMES AND THE CALENDAR OF ISLAM 1. Language and script a) Arabic: the language of Islam b) The other languages of Islam c) The Arabic script 2. Names and titles a) Islamic personal names b) The titles of rulers and honorific titles 3. The Islamic calendar 131 131 131 135 138 142 142 146 150 8 CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 155 9 BIBLIOGRAPHY 213 Index 294 List of illustrations 1. Genealogy of the Prophet’s family and of the caliphal dynasties 38 2. The Arab conquests in the 7th century 113 3. The Islamic world in the 10th century 118 4. The Islamic world in the 12th century 121 5. The Maghrib towards the end of the 13th century 123 6. The Ottoman empire 126 7. The Near East after the Peace of Lausanne 129 Preface This book was written to give students of Islam and the history of the Muslim peoples an introduction to the basic concepts and problems. It is not another narrative history, but a companion to the many accounts which are available: a perspective on the common denominators given to fourteen centuries of the Middle East and North Africa by Islamic rule and the Muslim creed. It is hoped that the indexed chronology will be found convenient as a reference guide to the main events, and that the bibliography will be useful as a guide to further reading for beginners and specialists alike. The publication of an English version four years after the original German edition has been a welcome opportunity to correct the text and to update the bibliography. I am grateful to Dr Carole Hillenbrand, who has doubled toil and trouble to translate the book into fair English, for making lucid even my obscurities. Ruhr-Universität Bochum G. E. Preface to the second edition The first English edition of this book, under the title An Introduction to Islam, appeared in 1988 (reprinted in 1994). For the present edition, a number of minor changes, corrections and additions have been made in the main text, reproduced from the original sheets, in conformity with the third German edition (1997). The bibliography has been completely revised and brought up to date, with special regard to the needs of English-speaking readers. October 2002 G. E. Note on the transliteration The transliteration system used here and in the other Islamic Surveys follows that of the Encyclopedia of Islam (second edition) with the following modifications: k≥, dj, dh, kh, and sh are rendered as q, j, dh, kh, and sh. 1 Introduction: the concept and unity of Islamic history ‘When God sent him, in the month of Rama∂Ån in which God willed concerning him what He willed of His grace, the apostle set forth to ÓirÅ’ as was his wont, and his family with him. When it was the night on which God honoured him with his mission and showed mercy on His servants thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. “He came to me,” said the apostle of God, “while I was asleep, with a coverlet of brocade whereon was some writing, and said, ‘Recite!’. I said, ‘What shall I recite?’ He pressed me with it so tightly that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said, ‘Recite!’. I said, ‘What shall I recite?’ He pressed me with it again so that I thought it was death and said ‘Recite!’ I said, ‘What shall I recite?’ – and this I said only to deliver myself from him, lest he should do the same to me again. He said: ‘Recite in the name of thy Lord who created, Who created man from a clot. Recite! Thy Lord is the most bounteous, Who taught by the pen, Taught man that which he knew not.’”’ (Ibn HishÅm: SÈrat Mu˙ammad RasËl AllÅh [The Life of Mu˙ammad, the Messenger of God]. Ed. Mu߆afÅ al-SaqqÅ, IbrÅhÈm al-AbyÅrÈ, æAbdal-ÓafÈΩ ShalabÈ, Cairo, 1955, Volume 1, pp. 236–7. – English translation based on The Life of Muhammad, tr. A. Guillaume, Oxford, 1955, pp. 105–6. The text of the first revelation is Sura 96 of the Koran, verses 1–5) Thus around the year 610 AD the history of Islam began. Mu˙ammad, the merchant of Mecca, became convinced of a truth which manifested itself to him as a revelation ‘like the light of the morning’, the ‘reciting’ and spreading of which became the meaning and work of his life from that day onwards. Already in his lifetime the horizon broadened with the circle of believers. The message spoke of the goodness and omnipotence of the one God; it also provided, however, the elements of a legal arid government system which formed the foundations of the first community in the name of this God. The message which 2 Islam: an historical introduction was given to the Arabs in their language became, in the view of the founder, the renewal and perfection of all revelation, aimed at all nations. The Arab kingdom which spread rapidly after his death beyond the borders of the Arabian peninsula became an Islamic world empire, whose ruler controlled, in the name of God and in succession to the Prophet, the temporal fate and eternal salvation of believers of all countries, and who also took the unbelievers under his protection. The unity of faith and of theocratic government within the empire collapsed; but even in collapse and in strife the unity of Islam remained inextinguishably preserved for centuries in the consciousness of Muslims. We can, therefore, speak of Islamic history in a broader sense than Christian history. It is true that there are analogies in the picture both religions have of their own history. Christianity too has its starting point in history ‘when the time was fulfilled’. In both religions, believers see this beginning as the culminating point of sacred history, as the event which gives their life sense and reality. The Christians of medieval Europe also saw themselves as the people of God, the inhabitants of God’s state (the Civitas Dei). Moreover, both religious communities share the same historical foundation. They participated in the bankruptcy of the Roman Empire (the Imperium Romanum); in both cases the inheritance of antiquity lived on and preserves in east and west a common basis of mutual understanding. The continuity of the transmission of knowledge, notably in philosophy and the Hellenistic sciences, is the most well-known manifestation of this; yet in urban culture too, in the power struggle of institutions, and in many a facet of political life, there are striking parallels. In the West, however, by the high Middle Ages, developments appeared which either did not take place in the Islamic East at all or occurred only very much later. Above all, the Christian state lost its identity with the community of the faithful much earlier than did the Islamic state. The Islamic state was never called into question in the same way as, at the beginning of the era which we call modern, the Church itself – already long divided – was called into question by people who experienced their encounter with God afresh as individuals. The Islamic world empire has also collapsed; Islam, too, has experienced erosion through schism and disagreement; it also is acquainted with the awakening of personal piety and the revolts of intellectual scepticism against the institutions of theocracy. But division between the people of God and the inhabitants of the State never became an accepted reality; the Islamic character of the political community is today a reality even in places where the ruling institutions no longer proclaim Islam as the state religion. Islam, which entered history as the message of the Prophet, manifested itself as a religious and political order which encompassed the society of the Near East and North Africa from the seventh to the nineteenth century and Introduction 3 which in all the variety of geographical and historical individuality gave unity and cohesion to the Arabs, Aramaeans, Berbers, Persians, Turks and others, even when they were in conflict with each other. Even today, long after the appearance of secular states in the East, the ideal of Islamic theocracy still has political impact. It is the ideal of a state whose ruler unites spiritual and secular command of all Muslims: guardian of the true faith, leader of public communal prayer and overlord of political, religious and legal institutions; in this he follows the example of the Prophet and in direct succession to him. It is true that this ideal could no longer be realised after the death of the Prophet. The question of succession (khilÅfa, ‘succession’, caliphate) already divided the community under the first caliphs, kindling civil war and religious division. The dynasty of the Umayyads, the Realpolitiker of Arab expansion and occupation, could not satisfy the aspirations of a community which comprised so many peoples. Their successors, the ÆAbbÅsids, who came from the tribe of the Prophet, appeared after a victorious revolution (750) claiming that they were truly the leaders not only of Arab believers but also of all Muslims. They created, however, in a centralised government apparatus of ‘scribes’ (kuttÅb) and in the military force of an absolutist government, institutions which were alien to the community of believers. The champions of the religio-legal institutions rose up against an attempt by the caliph al Ma’mËn (813–33) and his two successors to make a rational and logically-argued meaning of the Holy Book universally accepted. Their success freed Islam from the grasp of an autocrat, binding it once again to a codified, sanctioned tradition: the Sunna. From that time onwards – i.e., from the middle of the ninth century – dogma, law and the system of government in the Islamic world were created as a result of the effort of ‘Sunni’ orthodoxy to uphold the universal claim of Islam and the unity of the faith against external and internal challenges. When this aim came near to realisation, political unity was shattered and the caliphate had fallen under the tutelage of foreign – Iranian and Turkish – dynasties. But in the process of cooperation between the Islamic peoples and the multiplicity of their intellectual traditions from east and west – a Semitic, Iranian and classical Greek inheritance – there emerged the ‘international’ society and culture of Islam. It survived the end of the caliphate (1258) for another six centuries – the same length of time as the caliphate had lasted. With the rise of modern nation states in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we leave our subject. The history of Islam has continued, but in place of a community which – although divided and split – recognises as its sovereign the leader of orthodox prayer (even if he be a foreign usurper) there have appeared nations of Arabs – Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis – as well as Persians, Turks and all the other Islamic peoples and regions. Their institutions are modelled on examples of western legal and government doctrines. Most of 4 Islam: an historical introduction their kings, presidents and dictators cannot, and do not want to, lay claim to a spiritual role or religious authority. Others cherish this claim, attempt to legitimise their state as an Islamic one and try to turn back the wheel of history. Powerful movements aimed at reasserting the fundamentals of Islam flourish. It is questionable whether they can solve the problems of a society in flux as once the message of the Prophet at Mecca did; it is clear that they pursue different, indeed contradictory aims although many of them use the same slogans. As always, and recently even more than ever, politicians of all persuasions invoke the community of the Islamic peoples. Whether it can bring back unity of political activity remains to be seen. But their shared past exerts a profound influence on their present. 2 Europe and Islam: the history of Islamic studies in the West æThere are many wonderful things in oriental history which cannot be grasped by human understanding. A poor despised person, such as Muhammed was, acquired through his piety and other virtues such power that he is revered hardly less than God Himself by a great part of the inhabited earth – is that not wonderful? The same person tamed a wild and intractable people without force and educated them by giving them moral standards. He founded a religion which swept Christianity out of the east like a broom; from the smallest beginnings he established an empire which in half a century subjugated more provinces than the Roman empire in three entire centuries and defeated two flourishing empires, the Byzantine and the Persian, severely upsetting and shaking the former, and completely destroying the latter – all this, I say, did not happen without higher decree and must inwardly instil in our spirit, filled with love and respect for our own religion, a feeling of fear and pain … In short, anyone who wants to learn the different articles of the faith of nations about God and divine things and the history of religions, or the customs, laws and rules of tribes and states and forms of government, anyone moreover who is captivated by the history of natural objects, of illnesses and cures, or who likes to observe the form of the earth through the passage of time, and the rise and fall of cities, will find in the study of Muhammedan history a sufficiency and an abundance to occupy and satisfy him. Anyone who values literary history will be amazed how many men in the east had wandered in all avenues of literature at a time when our Europe was as if shrouded in a dark night of ignorance and barbarism, and will recognise with pleasure what contribution every one of them has made to the development of culture. He who studies such things has one of the most thoroughly worthwhile activities of the human mind and the most agreeable quickening of the spirit.’ (Johann Jacob Reiske: Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifae librum memorialem rerum a Muhammedanis gestarum exhibentia introductionem generalem in historiam sic dictam orientalem [written in 1747]. In: J. B. Koehler: Abulfedae tabulae Syriae. Leipzig 1766; 21786, pp. 239–40.) 6 Islam: an historical introduction With such words Johann Jacob Reiske canvassed the study of Islamic history and its Arabic sources in the year 1747. It was to Reiske that Arabic studies (according to Johann Fück [20.02], p. 108) owes its ‘coming of age’. It was the Enlightenment which had in broad outline prepared the ground in wider circles for an unbiased interest in the history and culture of the Islamic countries. To medieval Europe, Islam was a heresy; Mu˙ammad, who claimed that he was renewing and perfecting the pure religion of Abraham, was viewed as a false prophet influenced by Christian and Jewish heretics. Only a few learned scholars pressed for a more thoughtful judgement. The strife-ridden relationship between Christendom and Islam was characterised by centuries of threats and military conflict. Rapidly and insuperably the Arabs had fallen upon the provinces of Sasanian Iran and then of the Byzantine empire, had conquered Christian territories in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, and had broken Byzantine seapower in Sicily. After taking North Africa they had acquired Spain and, in spite of the efforts of Charles Martel (732), they threatened the heartlands of Europe for decades. These events could still fill a later observer ‘with fear and pain’ – Reiske’s words quoted at the beginning reveal this clearly – and could prevent him from making an objective judgement; even nineteenth century biographies of Mu˙ammad exude a spirit of prejudice and polemic, depicting the Prophet as a cunning and self-seeking politician and the Koran as a grotesque medley of fragments derived from Jewish and Christian traditions. 1. Early studies of Islam in the context of religious war The Crusades made the Franks familiar with a superior culture; contacts with the Muslims in Spain and Sicily gave Christian Europe access to the Arabic transmission and continuation of the scientific heritage of the ancient world; translations from the end of the eleventh century onwards enriched scientific, medical and philosophical studies. A deeper understanding of Islam and its history did not, however, accompany these developments. It was the defeats of the Crusaders – Edessa fell in 1144, as did Jerusalem in 1187, to Saladin – that awakened in intelligent men of the Church an awareness that coming to grips with the ‘Saracens’ demanded spiritual armour, and especially a precise knowledge of the Koran. The abbot Peter of Cluny (Peter the Venerable) who became acquainted in Spain with the conflict between Islam and Christianity, and the spirit of the Reconquista – the Song of the Cid appeared at just this time – commissioned Robert of Ketton in the year 1143 to produce the first Latin version of the Koran. (This was more a comprehensive paraphrase than a translation.) He also ordered certain Christian-Arab polemical and apologetic writings about Mu˙ammad and Islam, which were then accessible in Toledo, to be translated. He sent the translations to Bernard of Clairvaux and undertook in Europe and Islam 7 his Liber contra sectam sive haeresim Saracenorum to confront ‘the wicked sect of the Saracens’ with the power of the word and reason. Dominicans and Franciscans of the thirteenth century followed this example; the call for a thorough linguistic training of missionaries – taken up above all by the famous Raymond of Lull, whose religious zeal brought about his death in Tunis in 1316 – soon bore its first fruits. A standard work of polemic which on the other hand corrected many errors was the Propugnaculum of the Florentine Ricoldo da Monte Croce, who studied the language and religion of the Arabs around 1290 in Baghdad (Martin Luther translated this work into German in 1542!). But the sources of information on Islam remained sparse. Until the seventeenth century, Robert of Ketton’s version of the Koran, commissioned by Peter the Venerable, provided the basis for other translations into European languages. It was replaced and improved only in 1698 by the version of the Italian Ludovico Marracci. The Ottoman conquests in the Balkans and Asia Minor in the fifteenth century brought new danger for Europe and Christianity. Constantinople fell in 1453; but even then the information assembled by Peter and Ricoldo formed the major sources used by a re-awakening polemical literature. ‘So much blood has been spilt that streams of blood flowed through the city. Thus has the noble city founded by Constantine fallen into the hands of the infidels … What the fury of the Turks will bring about in the imperial city I do not know; but it is easy to guess: a nation which is hostile to our religion will not leave behind anything holy or pure’ – in these terms Enea Silvio Piccolomini (the future Pope Pius II) wrote to Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa under the influence of the contemporary crisis (correspondence published by R. Wolkan, Vol. III, I, Vienna 1918, p. 207) and he called for a unified and determined counter-attack on the part of the Christians. The reply of the great man of Cusa must demand respect: his Cribratio Alkorani (1461) is no strident polemic, but is written with the intention ‘of viewing the book of Mahumet from the standpoint of the Gospel of Christ, and of showing that there is, in this very book too, material through which the Gospel, if it needed further attestation, would indeed be confirmed’. It is written with the certainty that all religions have a share in the absolute truth of the one religion. (Cribratio Alkorani, prologue, n. 10, 1–3, ed. L. Hagemann, Nicolai de Cusa Opera Omnia, Vol. VIII, Hamburg 1985, p. 11.) In Spain, contacts between Muslims and Christians continued after the Reconquest too. In 1492, the last Arab ruler had to leave Granada, but the Muslims long remained in the Iberian peninsula as an important minority. Both the notorious Inquisition and serious studies of the Arabic language to help missionary work were the results of this precarious coexistence. Moreover, contacts between the Church of Rome and the Christians of the Near East encouraged such studies, in attempts to achieve union with the Oriental churches and to support missionary activity there. Efforts on the part of the 8 Islam: an historical introduction Curia to achieve union were likewise behind the setting up of a printing press by Cardinal Fernando dei Medici, which from 1586 to 1610 published for the first time important Arabic works in beautiful Arabic type. Amongst these were not only Christian theological writings for use by Arab clerics but also the medical encyclopedia of Avicenna, grammatical teaching manuals and an extract from the geography of al-IdrÈsÈ – signs of scientific interest in the spirit of the Renaissance. An example was set, which was soon to be followed in France, Holland and Germany. 2. From confrontation to co-existence The Islamic lands had been, since ancient times, stations for European trade on the road to India and the Far East. Nevertheless, this route – which was always precarious – had lost much of its importance from the thirteenth century, as contacts with the Mongols had opened up an alternative route through Russia and Central Asia. The discovery of America and of the sea route to India caused a complete eclipse in the commercial importance of the Islamic east. Soon, however, European governments found themselves obliged to enter into a new and completely different relationship with the Islamic world. Under SelÈm I (1512–20) the Ottomans had risen as the new power of the Near East, and under his successor, SüleymÅn, threatened the Balkans; in 1529 the Turks stood, for the first time, before Vienna. In the same year Charles V sent a diplomatic mission to Persia in the forlorn hope that he would gain the Íafavid ShÅh in Isfahan as an ally against the Ottomans. More successful were the negotiations of his rival François I of France with the Turks. They bore political as well as other fruits: in the year 1543 the king sent with an embassy to the Sublime Porte the scholar Guillaume Postel, who bought Arabic manuscripts in the east, produced a first grammar of the classical Arabic language and published an idealised representation of ‘The Republic of the Turks’. His pupil, Joseph Scaliger (1540–1609) produced, in his major work De emendatione temporum (1583), a thorough chronology of history according to all the sources then available, even oriental ones; the Islamic calendar was also shown. Moreover, the manuscripts of Postel which had reached the library of the Elector of the Palatinate in Heidelberg enriched Arabic and Islamic studies in both Germany and Holland. Holland soon took the lead; the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a trading nation and the energy of important scholars contributed to this. Thomas Erpenius (van Erpe, 1584–1624) studied the geography of AbË ’l-FidÅ’ and the Persian chronicle of MÈrkhwand; he had the Annals of al-ÊabarÈ in a Turkish version, and with it access to the major source of early Islamic history; and he was the first to make available, by means of a textual edition and a Latin translation of the world chronicle of the Copt al-MakÈn, an Europe and Islam 9 overview of Islamic history from its beginnings until the time of the Crusades, an overview which went back to authentic Islamic sources. The successor of Erpenius in the Chair of Arabic at Leiden was his pupil, Jacobus Golius (1596– 1667), whose Arabic–Latin dictionary (1653) remained for nearly 200 years the standard work for Arabic studies. Moreover, he brought back to Leiden valuable manuscripts from the east. Around 1609 the pupil of Golius, Levinus Warner – who represented the States-General at the Sublime Porte in Constantinople – bequeathed to the library at Leiden a legacy of almost a thousand manuscripts, and thereafter Leiden became the Mecca of European Arabic studies. To this day its treasury of early Arabic manuscripts is unique of its kind. Of comparable importance there were only the ancient holdings of the Escurial and of the Vatican (these were described for the first time only in the course of the eighteenth century) and the already important collection of the Bibliothèque Royale (the present Bibliothèque Nationale) in Paris. Nevertheless, it was only in the course of the nineteenth century that the holdings in Paris reached their present-day level when diplomats and colonial officials, scholars and travellers, in London and in Berlin, helped to found libraries of oriental manuscripts. Only during the twentieth century did the disproportionately greater holdings in the capital cities of the East become accessible and available to scholarship. Researchers and adventurers, who by their travel accounts made known to Europe the customs, culture and religion of the Islamic world, followed the diplomats, and also the merchants who travelled to Persia for silk and precious stones. The Roman Pietro della Valle travelled through Egypt and Syria, stayed longer in Persia (1619–26) and depicted the conditions of the Íafavid kingdom. The doctor François Bernier (1620–88) brought back from Syria, Egypt and India sharp observations about society and economy. Adam Olearius (Ölschläger, 1603–71) accompanied a trade mission from Holstein and not only described this in his Muscovitische und Persische Reyse covering the years 1633–5 and 1635–39, but was also the first to translate examples of Persian literature into German. Then Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and Jean (Sir John) Chardin gave thorough and many sided accounts of their Persian travels and experiences – Chardin even became court goldsmith of the ShÅh – in the 1660s and 1670s. 3. The beginnings of Islamic studies Travel accounts, political writing and practical handbooks on Turkey and other Islamic countries satisfied a contemporary interest – an interest which was certainly aimed more at the self-image, even self-criticism, of the Europeans, than at unbiased knowledge. On the other hand, the scientific study of Islam, its languages and literatures – to a large extent within the sphere of theology and Semitic philology – remained restricted to the Koran and the Arabic language. 10 Islam: an historical introduction The Reformation had directed attention to the text of the Bible and its oriental versions; people had also begun to appreciate (and soon also to over-estimate) the value of Arabic linguistic studies for an explanation of cognate Semitic roots in the Hebrew Old Testament. Among them was Thomas Bedwell (1563– 1632) in Cambridge, who introduced the study of Arabic into England. Few went further. The incumbent of the first Arabic Chair at Oxford, Edward Pocock (1604–91), himself also a theologian, made the pre-Islamic history of Arabia and the dogmatic theology of Islam better known through his Specimen Historiae Arabum (1650), and his Arabic-Latin edition of the concise History of the Dynasties of Barhebraeus (1663), admittedly a compilation by a Christian writer, nevertheless added to the few sources then known a significant summary of Arab history until the Mongol invasion. It also provided abundant information on literature and science from the best Arab historians. Towards the end of the seventeenth century the power of the Ottomans began to wane sharply – the attempt to storm Vienna in 1683 had proved abortive – and Europe began to confront Islam more calmly. At the same time the Enlightenment in France opened the way to an undogmatic confrontation with the world of the Orient; a general enthusiasm about Asia also encouraged scholarly studies. Bartholomé d’Herbelot (1625–95) derived from Arabic, Persian and Turkish chronicles the material for his ‘Bibliothèque Orientale’ (which appeared posthumously in 1697). As the first encyclopedia of the history and culture of the Islamic countries and of the authors and works of their literatures it was a milestone in the history of Oriental studies. Two decades later there appeared the free rendering by Antoine Galland of ‘The Tales of the 1001 Nights’, soon also translated into English and German from the French version – a European bestseller. Hardly any work of Arabic literature has determined so deeply and definitively the image of the East in the West, and this is not in the best interests of a dispassionate view. The Enlightenment, however, also taught that Mu˙ammad and the Koran should be viewed more objectively and indeed treated with respect. The Utrecht orientalist Adrianus Relandus in his work De Religione Mohammedica (1705) removed old errors, and the English translation of the Koran by George Sale (1734) put the study of the Islamic Book of Revelation on a new basis. It was, however, Johann Jacob Reiske (1716–74), with whose panegyric of Islamic history we began this chapter, who created a philological basis for these various efforts. His teacher at Leiden, Albert Schultens, had been content to use the study of Arabic in the service of philologia sacra, namely Biblical exegesis. Reiske viewed the search for doubtful etymologies of Semitic roots as an idle occupation; and he himself used the Arabic manuscripts of the library in Leiden – for the sake of which he spent arduous years of study in Holland – in order to open new doors for Arabic philology and to establish it as a truly independent Europe and Islam 11 scientific discipline. He would, moreover, have been able to achieve still greater things if misfortune, mistrust, and indeed his reputation as a free-thinker had not stood in his way all through his life and prevented his being appointed to a Chair at the University of Leipzig. His wide-ranging works on Arabic poetry, proverbs, medicine, numismatics and Islamic historians remained deprived of the recognition which they deserved. His Latin translation of the Annals of AbË ’l-FidÅ’ found no buyers, so that only the first volume could appear; his interpretation of Islamic history as a paradigm of universal history was in advance of his time. So the history of scholarship preserves his memory as a ‘martyr of Arabic literature’. Only after the French Revolution had changed the face of the world and the spirit of scholarship could the study of Arabic and Islam be resumed on the same level. In the meantime, in quite a different way two other researchers of the time enriched our knowledge of the Islamic East: Carsten Niebuhr (1733–1815), a member of the unlucky expedition to Arabia financed by the Danish king, undertook (after the failure of that joint enterprise) further journeys through southern Persia, Iraq, Palestine and Asia Minor (1761–7) and provided valuable descriptions of his findings; and the Frenchman François Volney, who spent the years 1783–6 in Egypt and Syria, observed the society and economy of the Arab world under Ottoman domination. His diagnosis – that the collapse of the economy and culture was brought on by oriental despotism and helped by Islamic fatalism – long moulded the judgement of European historians. 4. The rise of Oriental philology The word ‘orientalist’ first appeared in England (in 1779 in an essay about Edward Pocock); in 1791 ‘orientaliste’ appeared in France; in 1838 ‘orientalisme’ was the subject of an article in the Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française. At first this term meant the study of the entire Orient, i.e., both Near and Far East. The establishment of the Paris École Spéciale des Langues Orientales Vivantes in the year 1795 was intended to serve the practical demands of economics and diplomacy. The languages of the Near East were of paramount importance; Arabic, Persian and Turkish were represented by professorial chairs. Thus were ‘Oriental studies’ in a narrower sense established as an academic discipline. In Paris, a whole generation of European scholars in the early nineteenth century either studied under Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) or were influenced by his ‘school’. De Sacy’s Arabic grammar, his Arabic chrestomathy and his textual editions of Arabic and Persian historians and men of letters were important milestones. With his broad interests he exerted an influence on the wide circle of his pupils from all the countries of Europe: Wilhelm Freytag, Gustav Flügel, Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer and others from Germany, Carl Johan Tornberg 12 Islam: an historical introduction from Sweden, Don Pascual de Gayangos from Spain and William MacGuckin de Slane from Ireland and also Edward Elbridge Salisbury, first American professor of Arabic (and Sanskrit) at Yale College (1841). The interests of Austria in the Balkans and those of England in India encouraged Turkish and Persian studies in those countries. In 1784 William Jones had founded in Calcutta the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which promoted not only Indology but also the study of the Islamic culture of India; in Fort William College, where the employees of the East India Company were instructed from 1800 to 1854 in the local languages, native teachers edited grammars and texts. The diplomat Sir John Malcolm produced, with his History of Persia (1815), based partly on Persian original sources, a comprehensive work which was not only of historical interest but also served the need for information in view of Anglo-Indian politics and trade. The versatile Joseph von Hammer Purgstall (1774–1856) published in Vienna between 1809 and 1818 a scholarly journal entitled ‘Fundgruben des Orients’. This linguistically gifted amateur of Islamic literature had studied Turkish and Persian at the oriental Academy of Vienna (founded in 1754 by Maria Theresa) and had then also learnt Arabic in the East. In his journal – largely filled with contributions from his own pen – he published the widest variety of texts and subjects from the undiscovered treasures of Islamic literature, in collaboration with scholars from the whole of Europe. Today his work arouses admiration more for its abundance than for its philological precision but his wide-ranging treatment of the history and the governmental system of the Ottoman Empire is still of value and his influence gave a wide circle of people a new image of the East. Goethe read ÓÅfiΩ in Hammer’s translation: ‘In every part my little book reveals how much I owe to this worthy man’, he acknowledged in the ‘Notes and Discussions’ of the West-östlicher Divan (Hamburg edition, Volume 2, p. 253). Despite this, he maintained a critical distance towards him – as did the prelate Heinrich Friedrich von Diez (1784–91), the Prussian chargé d’affaires at the Sublime Porte and the other source of inspiration for Goethe’s encounter with the East. In Germany Romanticism aroused an interest in the ‘differences in the structure of human language’, in the ‘national character of language’ (Wilhelm von Humboldt) and a sense of the specific external and inner form of Oriental poetry. Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) – who learnt Persian with HammerPurgstall and who served first in Erlangen and then in Berlin as Professor of Oriental Languages – created from the very spirit and genius of Romanticism translations, unsurpassed even today, of great works of literature from the Near and the Far East, amongst which was the first translation of the Koran to reflect the rhetorical power of the original. The growing number of specialists encouraged the idea of union. In the year Europe and Islam 13 1821 the Société Asiatique was founded in Paris (De Sacy was its first president); the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland followed in 1834,, the American Oriental Society in 1842 and the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in 1845. They all sponsored (as they still do today) the study of languages and culture of the East in the broadest sense, encompassing the ancient East, the world of Islam, India and East Asia. Their publications made it clear that knowledge of the East was obviously an international branch of scholarship in its own right. 5. ‘Historicism’ and the opening up of the sources The intellectual movement of Romanticism brought in its train a new sensitivity towards the multiplicity and individuality of world literatures; at the same time a new attitude to what constituted the proper study of history gained ground. ‘Every era belongs immediately to God, and its value does not depend at all on what results from it but lies in its own existence’; so wrote Leopold von Ranke in 1854 (Über die Epochen der neueren Geschichte, new edition Darmstadt, 1954, p. 8). To grasp the events, personalities and periods of the past in their uniqueness, variety and richness and to appreciate them with a consciousness that they were of equal value – this was, from the middle of the nineteenth century, the aim of the Islamic historians who dealt extensively with known sources and opened up new ones. It can be asserted that it was only this outburst of historico-critical research which freed scholarship on Islam and its history from all the practical constraints and theoretical considerations which had hitherto imprisoned it. Since then, methods have become more refined. The field of vision has become wider, whilst at the same time, too, the awareness of the relativity and contemporaneity of ‘objective’ scholarly judgement has become sharpened. Yet even today Islamic studies are still occupied with the tasks laid down by historicism: assembling, appraising and arranging data and facts to establish a framework to provide a surer interpretation of historical connections and forces. In this context, then, there appeared the first general work on the period of the Caliphs, by Gustav Weil (Geschichte der Chalifen, 1850–1; Geschichte des Abbasidenchalifates in Ägypten, 1860–2). Even today, there is no comparable work which gives a detailed presentation of events with constant recourse to traditional sources. (It is true that a sequel would have to reckon with material which has become unmanageable in size; Weil could limit himself to giving an account from the chronicles which were accessible to him.) His biography of Mu˙ammad (1843) was rapidly overtaken by the more comprehensive work of the Austrian Aloys Sprenger (English 1851, German 1861–5) which even with all the weaknesses of his religio-historical diagnosis (he viewed Mu˙ammad as a morbid hysteric) for the first time made use of the material of Islamic traditions 14 Islam: an historical introduction in extenso, giving a witty presentation of it. Like Sprenger, the Scotsman William Muir worked in India and he was active in similar fashion, presenting to the English public a biography of the Prophet (1856–61) based on the sources opened up by Sprenger. Muir’s The history of the Caliphs (1883) was dependent on Weil. Weil had also prepared Historisch-kritische Einleitung in den Koran (1844); most important, however, was the Geschichte des QorÅns of Theodor Nöldeke (1860) which is still today a standard work in the extensively revised and re-worked version of Friedrich Schwally (1909–19). Around the same time the Viennese scholar Alfred von Kremer, after extensive journeys in the Orient, began his Geschichte der herrschenden Ideen des Islams (1868) and a Culturgeschichte des Orients unter den Chalifen (1875–7), unsurpassed synopses of the intellectual and material culture of medieval Islam. The great chronicles which provided the basis for these first general overviews became universally accessible from the middle of the nineteenth century in printed editions. Ferdinand Wüstenfeld (1808–99) published the classic biography of Mu˙ammad by Ibn HishÅm, the Arabic chronicles of Mecca, genealogical and biographical lexicons and geographical encyclopedias; the Swede Carl Johan Tornberg published the great annals of Ibn al-AthÈr; the Dutchman Reinhart Dozy published the historians of the Islamic west – followed by critical studies of the sources and a comprehensive overview. Michele Amari (1806–89) published the Arabic historical sources of his homeland Sicily; in Paris Adrien Barbier de Meynard (with Abel Pavet de Courteille) published the detailed dynastic, cultural and natural history of al-MasÆËdÈ (1861–77); Michael Jan de Goeje organised in Leiden, with the cooperation of Dutch, German and Italian Arabists, the monumental edition of al-ÊabarÈ (1879–1901) – our principal source for a knowledge of the first three centuries of Islamic history – and soon afterwards Eduard Sachau (director of the Seminar für Orientalische Sprachen founded in Berlin in 1887) published an edition of the ÊabaqÅt of Ibn SaÆd, the book on the ‘generations’ of the Companions of the Prophet and of the men of early Islam. Many of these editions have not yet been replaced or superseded and a good many have been pirated or reprinted in the Arab east. At the same time a critical analysis of the sources began. Here too, editors achieved important preparatory work. Julius Wellhausen applied methods he had used in his critical study of the Pentateuch – the isolating of layers and tendencies in transmission – to early Arab historians and used the results in his classic work Skizzen und Vorarbeiten (1884–99), in a work on Die religiöspolitischen Oppositionsparteien im alten Islam (1901) and in his most important work Das arabische Reich und sein Sturz (1902). In Italy Leone Caetani assembled, in his grandiose Annali dell’Islam (1905–27) and his Chronographia Islamica which appeared at the same time (1913–22), the sources for a history of the first Europe and Islam 15 one-and-a-half centuries of Islam in as complete a form as was possible at that time. The auxiliary disciplines of historical research, archaeology, epigraphy and palaeography were treated more systematically from the turn of the century. As early as 1875 to 1891 Stanley Lane-Poole had published a 10-volume catalogue of the Oriental coin collection of the British Museum, and on the basis of this had compiled a chronological table of the Islamic dynasties. The Russian scholar, Vasilij Vladimirovich Bartol’d (Wilhelm Barthold 1869–1930, the pupil of the Arabist Viktor Rosen) undertook the history of Central Asia and of the Turkish peoples with the aid of numismatic as well as literary sources. In Vienna Joseph von Karabacek (1845–1918) advanced Arabic numismatics and above all papyrology with the aid of the important collection of the Archduke Rainer. The founder of Arabic epigraphy was the Genevan Max van Berchem (1863–1921). His monumental Matériaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum covered a large part of the Arabic inscriptions then accessible in Asia Minor, Syria, Jerusalem and Cairo; this work which appeared from 1894 onwards was continued after his death on the basis of material collected by him and by others, but it has remained incomplete. Amongst those who worked on it were Josef Strzygowski, who was mainly active in the field of art history, and Ernst Herzfeld, a pioneer of Islamic archaeology, who brought to light very important material from his journeys in Iraq undertaken with Friedrich Sarre, and above all from the excavation of the ÆAbbÅsid Palace at Samarra (1911–14). Alois Musil undertook from 1895 to 1915 a series of extensive research journeys in eastern Syria, North Arabia and Mesopotamia. He discovered the Umayyad castle of Qußayr ÆAmra with its striking frescoes and produced in a series of topographical travel reports the foundation of our knowledge of the historical geography and the ethnography of the Arabian steppe (he accompanied the RwÅla Bedouin on their migrations for a whole year). During this period the vast number of oriental and above all Arabic literary works which had become known in the manuscript catalogues of the European collections, and also since the middle of the nineteenth century in printed editions from the Orient, grew inordinately. The job of examining and arranging them still remains incomplete; even now, not all the works preserved in the libraries of the east are accessible or have been properly catalogued. The most important tool of Arabic bibliography remains the Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur, which Carl Brockelmann who was then 27 years old published from 1895 onwards (‘in order to make it possible for the publisher Felber to publish my edition of Ibn Qutayba’s ÆUyËn al-akhbÅr … by means of a comparatively marketable work’, as he was later to remark not without bitterness – the publisher did not keep his promise to him). He enlarged it substantially through supplementary volumes which appeared between 1937 and 1942 – a tremendous achievement which moreover could hardly rely on competent earlier work. The 16 Islam: an historical introduction most important of such earlier works was the exemplary catalogue of manuscripts in the Berlin Imperial Library – the present day Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz – written by Wilhelm Ahlwardt. Edward Granville Browne produced an overall picture of Persian literature in the context of the Islamic history of Iran (A Literary History of Persia, 1902–24). He also wrote a fascinating account of a year of study spent in Persia: A Year Amongst the Persians (1893). A study comparable to that of Brockelmann on works in Persian was begun in 1927 by Charles Ambrose Storey. 6. Islam as a field of scholarship Besides historical research in a narrow sense, the study of the religion of Islam became established as a special discipline. More than any other, the Hungarian Ignaz Goldziher (1850–1921) should be mentioned here, who in his seminal Muhammedanische Studien (1889–90) and many other works and monographs undertook ‘to apply the methods of critical historicism to Islam in its entirety and to view it as a phenomenon of cultural history, the development of which is essentially inspired by religious ideas’ (J. Fück [20.02], p. 226). Experience of the East gave other scholars the stimulus to study contemporary Islam in its historical context. The Dutchman Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936), a pupil of de Goeje, described the holy city of Mecca from personal experience (1888–9) and – while active as a colonial official in Java and Sumatra – portrayed for the first time the history and society of Islamic Indonesia. In similar fashion, French orientalists contributed to the investigation of French colonial territory in North Africa. Louis Massignon (1883–1962) began his studies with geographical work on Morocco but soon went far beyond a limited geographical framework. Just as the orthodox Judaism of Goldziher was the basis and starting point for his observation of Islam, so too it was Massignon’s Catholic Christianity which enabled him to have a deep understanding of Islamic piety and mysticism. In the year 1909 his first important study on the mystic ÓallÅj appeared. Independent in his interpretation of religious phenomena, but also criticised for his drawing of parallels between Islamic and Christian sacred history (the passion of Christ and of ÓallÅj, Mary and FņÈma) he nevertheless led Islamic scholarship far beyond a historical approach which merely passively observes and compiles. New horizons were also revealed by the Scotsman, Duncan Black Macdonald, who was at the Theological Seminar in Hartford from 1892 and was the first representative of Islamic scholarship in the United States; he used the methods of the psychology of religion in his works on Islamic theology. At the Seminar für Orientalische Sprachen in Berlin, Richard Hartmann from 1887 onwards produced similar work using sociological methods (following Auguste Comte and Max Weber – who were still at that time viewed Europe and Islam 17 with mistrust and indeed attacked) to analyse the law, government and society of Islam. Finally, Carl Heinrich Becker (1876–1933), the first specialist in the history and culture of the Near East in Hamburg, rebelled against the exclusion of the Islamic east from the Western view of history and proclaimed (against Ernst Troeltsch) Islam’s role as intermediary between Europe and Asia. He argued that both Islam and Europe had assimilated the classical heritage, despite all the differences between them in the way they chose to interpret it, and that there was continuous exchange between Islam and Europe in all spheres of intellectual and cultural activity. He also showed ‘that it was a mistake to view Islam as being totally hostile to economic activity’ and to regard Islam as being inherently fatalistic. In this way, he swept away long-standing prejudices ([14.19] p. 65). The abundance of knowledge, perspectives and opinions newly acquired from texts and studies were gathered together in the first great collaborative work of western Orientalism, the Encyclopaedia of Islam: a geographical, ethnographical and biographical dictionary of the Mohammadan peoples. This was prepared after a resolution of the Geneva Congress of Orientalists from 1894 by Goldziher, de Goeje and Karabacek, it appeared in Leiden from 1908 in German, French and English and was completed by the collaborative work of nearly a hundred scholars after thirty years with the appearance of the supplementary volume in 1938. 7. Research on Islam in East and West: encounter and conflict Thus Islam as a field of scholarship began to emerge as a recognised discipline in Europe and America from the end of the nineteenth century, to have independent status through the establishment of Chairs and university institutes, to express itself through journals and the publications of learned societies and also to specialise in the spheres of Arabic, Iranian and Turkish studies. At the same time, in the Islamic countries themselves Islamic research appeared which was no longer primarily motivated by theology or law but which was scholarly in the western sense; this development was brought about by movements of national emancipation, sponsored and not infrequently set up by politicians and scholars who had been students of European scholarship. One of the great men of the new Egyptian literature, ÊÅhÅ Óusayn – novelist, literary critic and politician of culture, defender of a nationalism which was liberal and open to the West, and champion of a spiritual and scholarly relationship with Europe – wrote about the first phase of fruitful intellectual contacts between European teachers and Arab students. He describes in his personal reminiscences the effect which the lectures of some important European Arabists had on the students of Cairo University, which had been 18 Islam: an historical introduction founded in the year 1908. Until that time he had been a pupil of the famous theological college of the Azhar Mosque; and, oppressed by its intellectual narrowness, he was fascinated by the style and content of this new teaching. Here the Egyptian professors not only read the traditional teaching texts of the old curriculum – grammar, law, dogmatics – but opened up vistas of a wide universe of knowledge and historical sources. New professors came who completely entranced him [the author presents his autobiography in the third person] and took his fancy. There was Professor Carlo Nallino, the Italian orientalist who gave lectures in Arabic on the history of Umayyad literature [more precisely in 1908–09 on Arabic astronomy, and only in 1909–10 on ancient Arabic literature up to the Umayyad period]. There was Professor (David) Santillana; he also spoke in Arabic with a charming Tunisian accent about the history of Islamic philosophy, especially about the history of (Greek-Arabic) translations. There was also Professor (Gerardo) Meloni, who also lectured in Arabic on the history of the ancient East; he told the students about things which no Professor before him had ever discussed in Egypt – he dealt with the history of Babylon and Assyria, he spoke about cuneiform script, and he discussed the laws of Hammurabi. The young man understood everything which the professors said, he found nothing complicated or difficult to understand. Nothing was more displeasing to him than the end of the lectures and he looked forward to nothing more than the next lesson. There was also a German professor, [Enno] Littmann; he spoke primarily about Semitic languages and their relationship with Arabic and then began to teach some of these languages. The young man would have broken away completely from his earlier life had he not spent the rest of the day and part of the evening with his school fellows from the Azhar, from the DÅr al-ÆUlËm [a teaching institute which was to teach graduates of the Azhar the modern sciences and the students of the Faculty of Law. But mingled with admiration and fascination there was also scorn and amazement; not only certain Egyptian professors, but the foreign professors as well were a source of merriment and a target of mockery. Their Arabic made the students laugh; and some of them twisted their tongues in order to imitate the Arabic of this or that Italian or German professor! The young man never forgot the day when the students decided to boycott the lecture of the Italian Professor Nallino because Italy had declared war on Turkey [29.9.1911] and had sent its warships against Tripoli. The students decided to assemble in the lecture room until the professor came and sat down in his chair and then to go out of the room and leave him alone. And so indeed it happened; the students left the teacher alone in the lecture hall and then stood outside the door and waited to see how he would react. The professor remained there for a few moments and then he came out, turned to his students and said to them in pure classical Arabic but with his own peculiar accent: ‘You are like a man who castrates himself in order to spite his wife!’ The arrow hit the mark and the point went home. From that day onwards no university student contemplated another boycott on lectures. (ÊÅhÅ Óusayn: alAyyÅm [‘The Days’], volume 3, Cairo, 1973, chapter 4, p. 34; chapter 6, pp. 42–3.) Europe and Islam 19 The spontaneous thirst for knowledge, the naive enthusiasm for the sheer novelty of European scholarship, is today a thing of the past. But the conscious withdrawal on the part of young Islamic intellectuals from tradition, the hope for progress through secularisation according to a European model, and the search for national self-expression through a new scholarly observation of the Islamic past have laid the ground for efforts at philological and historical research in the East. Like ÊÅhÅ Óusayn – who later continued his studies in France – a good many writers and scholars from Egypt as well as from other Islamic countries have studied in European and American universities, and academies and universities in the Arab world have been founded as institutions for literary and historical research on the Western model. Mu˙ammad Kurd ÆAlÈ, the founder of the Arab Academy in Damascus and its first President from 1922 to 1953 (at the same time an important historian of his home city), acknowledged in a long lecture the role played by European studies since the Renaissance in their effect on the Arabs themselves: We should now recognise how this Renaissance has influenced us and our language. That means that we should be aware of how that mighty effort (on the part of the Europeans) to re-awaken the Arab inheritance affects us personally, and we should therefore praise those who have published our books, have given to our beloved language the favour of their endeavour and who have taught us in lectures things about the history of our people and the culture of our ancestors which we did not know. (Majallat al-MajmaÆ al-ÆIlmÈ al-ÆArabi [Journal of the Arab Academy] 7.1927, p. 400) On the other hand, the vigorous attacks of Kurd ÆAlÈ on the work of the Belgian Jesuit Henri Lammens (1862–1937) then active in Beirut who denied that the traditional sources of early Islam had any truth in them at all show how he could challenge European scholarship. Yet the closing episode of the passage quoted above from ÊÅhÅ Óusayn contains a lesson which is still valid today. Contempt for the foreigner who will never be able to speak the language of Islam like an Arab, and, above all, anger at the arrogance of power politics for which scholars are given their share of responsibility – these are also factors at work in the scholarly encounter between East and West. Even today, criticism of the political role of the western powers in the Near East invites the judgement that western Oriental research is an ‘organ’ of colonialism or imperialism. The European must allow himself to be asked by the representatives of independent and self-assured scholarship in the Islamic countries whether he has mastered the Islamic languages thoroughly enough; whether he has interpreted the sources sensitively enough; and whether he, as a non-Muslim, can understand the religion, history and culture of Islam profoundly enough. Even in the East, however, the classical literary language of medieval sources 20 Islam: an historical introduction has become alien and rapidly more difficult of access to people today. Here the rift between the written language and the spoken everyday language also plays a part; only a few Muslims still possess the kind of education which was provided by the traditional theological college (the madrasa). In addition, the scholarly methods of philological textual work and of criticism of historical sources which were developed in Europe have first of all been applied here to Islamic literary and historical works and thereafter passed on to the East. The process of assimilation has already begun and is still going on today. Thus the way has been prepared for a fruitful collaboration between Europeans and the scholars of the Islamic world, a collaboration which the East can promote to an everincreasing extent, but to which Europe can also contribute further by drawing on its ancient and rich scholarly tradition. The question as to whether philology or sociology is more useful to Oriental and Islamic research is a favourite one today; it is a fairly idle one. As long as many textual sources remain inaccessible, indeed unknown, there is a necessity for philological work. Otherwise, all assertions now made about historical hypotheses have feet of clay. Anyone who cannot read the sources often has to be satisfied with half-baked ideas and half-truths. On the other hand, philological precision can simulate an objectivity which adopts as its own the limited horizon of the medieval reader instead of teaching one to look through it. It often presents to those seeking introduction and orientation nothing more than an overall array of remote facts. Contacts with other disciplines are therefore necessary – with general historical studies, with cultural geography and with social sciences. In this way the field of Islamic history, which is still in its infancy, can answer the vital questions of the present. It can only achieve this aim if it does not capitulate to demands on the part of small-minded bureaucrats that scholarship should produce immediate short-term benefits. Such a capitulation would entail a half-hearted and – in a world of rapid and unpredictable change – vain attempt at modernism. This young discipline can only find itself if it keeps a sense of respect for the individual nature of its partners in the East – a nature which has evolved over many centuries – and at the same time expresses the profound community of shared historical concepts and experiences between Europe and the Islamic world. 3 Islam: religion and legal system ‘God (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise. Lo! religion with God (is) the Surrender (IslÅm). Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. Whoso disbelieveth the revelations of God (will find that) lo! God is swift at reckoning. And if they argue with thee (O Mu˙ammad), say: I have surrendered (aslamtu) my purpose to God and (so have) those who follow me. And say unto those who have received the Scripture and those who read not: Have ye (too) surrendered (aslamtum)? If they surrender (aslamË), then truly they are rightly guided and if they turn away, then it is thy duty only to convey the message (unto them). God is Seer of (His) bondmen.’ (Koran, sura 3, verses 18–20) Islam is a confession and a mode of conduct; it is the ‘exclusive confession’ of the One Almighty God; it is ‘complete surrender’ to His revealed command; for the revelation is God’s manifestation and God’s command to man. ‘Islam’ therefore denotes acceptance of the revelation and the implementation of the command, and in a broader sense the historically evolved system of law which regulates both the worship of God as well as the conduct of the believers within the community. Those who profess Islam (muslimËn) form a religious and political community (the umma) which was founded by His prophet according to God’s will. The umma is still – even after the break-up of the Civitas Dei and the collapse of political unity – the community of people, nations and states who in their belief, in their worship of God, in their private and public behaviour, submit to the law revealed in the Koran. This law is based on revelation; but in its shaping, systematisation and formulation it is the result of historical and political experience; and disputes of faith and law have left their mark on the political history of Islam until today. 22 Islam: an historical introduction 1. The Revelation Anyone who seeks to understand Islam must have recourse to the Koran. The Koran, according to Muslim belief, is the Word of God, the Revelation of His divinity and His command to men; it is the basis of the Islamic religion, a basis which has remained unaltered during the course of history, even if it is constantly experienced and interpreted anew. But the Koran itself is a book which is difficult of access. This is for external and internal reasons: external because in the present arrangement of the texts of the Revelation it is not possible to work out the original chronological sequence; internal because without a knowledge of the historical context it is not really possible to understand either the message in its entirety or many of the details of, and allusions to, its environment. These associations, moreover, have only been preserved for us by the manifold facets and reflections of religious tradition. Mu˙ammad, the Prophet, was according to his own belief and that of his community the recipient of the Revelation, God’s human instrument. It was his mission to ‘repeat’ and ‘recite’ the message of the heavenly Book of Revelation. ‘Recite; in the name of your Lord’ – with this introduction to the first revelation (sura 96) he found himself called to be a prophet; there then followed the command ‘Stand up and warn’ (sura 74) which designated him as the messenger of God to His people. Believers gathered around him and they soon began to note down individual revelations; there are in the Koran itself allusions to the fact that a knowledge of writing was quite common in the commercial city of Mecca. For the community of believers these writings soon became an integral part of the worship of God; a text to be recited (qur’Ån ‘recitation’), the Holy Book, which joined the books of the old religions and replaced them. But the task of writing down and collecting of the revelations was not completed during the lifetime of Mu˙ammad; this occurred only later in the generation of his immediate successors. A recent investigation has tried with penetrating arguments to prove the opposite (John Burton), arguing that it was indeed the Prophet himself who had the Revelations written down and that at a later date Islamic lawyers made a distinction between the Revealed Book of God, and the codified Koran, only so as to be able to use variant readings and apocryphal material, and therefore denied the Prophet the achievement of having assembled the Koran. Yet the tradition is unanimous – and if we wanted to characterise all tradition as being fabrication motivated by bias and pious intention then history could not be written: the tradition is unanimous that it was the third caliph (æUthmÅn, 644–56) who first collected the Book of Islam and had it produced in a complete, unified and unchangeable form. Until then individual parts had been transmitted separately, smaller sections had been joined to bigger units, and collections of these shorter and longer texts to be recited, the ‘suras’ (Arabic, Islam: religion and legal system 23 sËra), had been assembled in notebook or scroll form by the trusted Companions of the Prophet. After the turmoil of the conquests it seemed essential to ensure that there was unity of belief in the new empire. The caliph therefore ordered that a version of the Koran should be produced which was to be universally valid, ‘canonical’, and that every other version which was in common use should be withdrawn. The available collections were compared and compiled, and the 114 suras were arranged roughly in order of their length – from the second, which has 286 verses, to the last ones which have between 3 and 6 verses. The opening sura (the FÅti˙a), a short prayer which plays an important role in Muslim worship and everyday life, is followed by the long legal texts of the closing years in Medina and then by the numerous prophecies about God, the Creation and Divine History. Only at the end of the book do there appear the short ecstatic messages of the first period, which are full of the overwhelming experience of revelation. Tradition tells us which suras were ‘sent down’ in Mecca and which in Medina but there is no further information about their chronological sequence and composition. If a relative or absolute chronology can be constructed at all this is only on the basis of allusions in the text. To the mind of the devout Muslim this is a matter of fundamental indifference: all revelations are part of the Divine ‘original text’, the truth which existed in God’s mind before time and creation. But the historian who wants to understand the background, emergence and earliest development of Islam is given a very difficult task. Several researchers on the Koran, such as Theodor Nöldeke, Richard Bell and Régis Blachère, tried to put the suras and parts of suras into their original order according to internal and external criteria, but they came to different conclusions in each case. Absolute certainty is not possible; and yet this remains a problem of great importance. More than all other extensive traditional sources on the life and work of the Islamic prophet, the Koran provides a firm base: it is a source of unique immediacy and authenticity. If the genuineness and comprehensiveness of the canonical text was questioned at all it was by minorities in the Islamic community who thought that texts which confirmed the legitimacy of their claims had been suppressed by æUthmÅn’s editors (but they too were content for the most part to interpret the canonical text for their own ends). The canonical text is also questioned today by some researchers who see in the Koran (as in early Islamic tradition) nothing more than a backward projection of pious fictions and political tendencies; according to them, what Muhammad originally preached was not the religion of Islam but a Christian or Jewish heresy (M. Cook and P. Crone; G. Lüling): it was the Umayyad caliphs or even later proponents of theocracy who first canonised the Koran, and tradition about the emergence and the activities of the Prophet is mythology (J. Wansborough). The arguments advanced to support such hypotheses have not proved convincing as 24 Islam: an historical introduction a whole. It is true that quite a few of the reports about the early period of Islam say more about the tendencies and tensions of the community at the time when the text was written down – a hundred or so years after the death of the Prophet – than about ‘how it really happened’. Many questions remain unanswered. But the personality and achievement of the Arab prophet would not be recognisable without his message, without the Koran. The signs and symbols of the Koran are those of its environment. Otherwise people would not have listened to its message. Islam adopted the ethics, legal concepts and religious rituals of ancient Arabia and drew on the religious paradigms of Judaism and Christianity. It is therefore legitimate to look into the sources – spiritual currents in general and literary ‘texts’ in particular. European research has made great efforts to isolate and analyse Jewish and Christian elements in the Koran, both Biblical material and other traditions of oriental religious communities. In this way it has produced many important insights but it has also emphasised the wrong issues; the essence and the impact of the Islamic message cannot be explained only in terms of other religions. These religions had spread not only amongst the sedentary Arabs of Syria and Iraq but had also penetrated into inner Arabia. As a young man Mu˙ammad had become acquainted with Christianity on his trade journeys along the spice route, and after the emigration he met the Jews of Medina. In the course of his religious and political experience he himself came to see his religion as the legitimate continuation of earlier monotheism. But far more important than the paradigms he had inherited was the pragmatic impact of the new message which was revealed through him. What, then, were the new elements? The society in which Mu˙ammad grew up was a society in flux, from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life, from tribal collectivism to individualism, from superstitious polytheism to monotheism; a society which could not find a new direction for a way out of its conflicts. The Prophet ordered them to reflect and to change their lives, not by a radical negation of the existing order but by transforming it. He spoke to them in their language – in the widest sense. He brought the Arabs the Revealed Message in their own language; he drew for that message on the language of the tribal poets who had already transcended the limits of the different dialects; but it was he who really created a common literary language for the Arabs. The form of his speech is related to the language of the ancient Arabian seer (kÅhin), as in the form of rhyming prose (sajÆ), which joins the verses of a sura or a shorter group of verses through common end-rhymes. (As the Prophet drew away from the model provided by the pre-Islamic soothsayer, the poetic character of this rhymed prose receded in the course of time, becoming a mere relic in the longwinded legal texts of the later period.) Apart from these ancient and traditional elements we can observe Islam: religion and legal system 25 in the Arabic of the Koran an unprecedented richness of religious language and of literary expression in general. Even before Islam, AllÅh (from al-ilÅh ‘the god’) was the name of God and the object of worship; individual men and women – they are called ˙anÈf in the Koran – had already taken the step towards monotheism. The shrine of the deities at Mecca, the KaÆba, remained a shrine and became the spiritual centre of monotheistic Islam; and even the rituals of the old faith were incorporated into the Islamic pilgrimage (the ˙ajj). But what had previously become an empty shell, and of primary importance because of the markets, the holy months and the truce which was linked with them, now received new meaning: founded by Abraham, the KaÆba became the cornerstone of sacred history, the symbol of the true religion which had been established earlier and was now renewed and completed in the Arabic Koran. The legal concepts of the pre-Islamic Bedouin are amongst the most important elements which ancient Arabia bequeathed to Islam. They were, of course, revised in the light of social change and under a new dispensation: tribal solidarity and honour (Æir∂), norms of a religious dimension in ancient Arabian paganism, collapsed just as the worship of the old gods did; they no longer sufficed to confer unlimited validity on the ideals of manly virtue (muruwwa), and it was precisely this which created the malaise which cried out for reform. Insistence on social welfare (alms), the system of private and collective security (lex talionis and penal law) and family and inheritance laws in the Koran are proclaimed as the commands of the Divine Judge. In the place of ‘ignorance’ (jÅhiliyya, the characteristic of ancient paganism) there appears ‘knowledge’ (Æilm) derived from revelation. The community of the believers (umma) transcends tribal society and in many respects replaces it. The biography of Mu˙ammad is the biography of a man who sought God and found Him in the experience of the divine summons; it is also the story of the Prophet of Mecca who assembled around him a community of believers; and finally, it is the story of the politician of Medina who founded Islamic theocracy. It is the story of a triumph, but before the years of fulfilment there stretched a long road of conflicts, setbacks and struggles. The leaders of the Quraysh, the Bedouin tribe who had become sedentary in Mecca and taken control of the city, the tribe to which Mu˙ammad himself also belonged, opposed his cause and defended their way of life with increasingly repressive measures. After the successful emigration to Medina there followed a long series of military encounters, and bitter disappointment when the Jewish tribes refused to recognise him as the spokesman of their own God. The Koran is not only theophany and law; it is also a faithful mirror of this road to God, of the struggles of a man who seeks, goes astray and despairs, who disputes with God, is put back on the right way and consoled by Him and who corrects and justifies 26 Islam: an historical introduction himself. The great themes of the Koran can be seen as reflections of this personality. We must, of course, remain aware that with this perspective we grasp only one dimension of ‘le fait coranique’ (M. Arkoun). In the early revelations God reveals Himself as the omnipotent Lord, the benevolent Creator and severe judge. Mu˙ammad himself is addressed: Recite in the name of thy Lord who created, created man from a clot. Recite! Thy Lord is the most bounteous, who teacheth by the pen; taught man that which he knew not. (Sura 96, verses 1–5) (Erwin Gräf [31.26] points out the Koranic analogy between man’s creation and resurrection and translates: ‘who has taught you about the pen’, i.e. about the pen which records man’s deeds for the Last Day; others interpret the word, following Muslim tradition, to mean earlier religions with scriptures, or the use of the pen, a symbol of high culture.) Side by side with praise of God’s goodness and creative power there is the threat of judgement; both combine in the warning to convert: When Earth is shaken with her (final) earthquake and Earth yieldeth up her burdens and man saith: What aileth her? That day she will relate her chronicles, because thy Lord inspireth her. That day mankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. And whoso doeth good an atom’s weight will see it then and whoso doeth ill an atom’s weight will see it then. (Sura 99) Not only the warning of judgement but also God’s beneficence are reminders that one should show compassion and concern for one’s neighbour. By the morning hours and by the night when it is stillest, thy Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor doth He hate thee, and verily the latter portion will be better for thee than the former, and verily thy Lord will give unto thee so that thou wilt be content. Did He not find thee an orphan and protect (thee)? Therefore the orphan oppress not, therefore the beggar drive not away, therefore of the bounty of thy Lord be thy discourse. (Sura 93, verses 1–11) The demand to give alms – later made officially into the alms tax (zakÅt) – is also one of the oldest elements of the revelation. After his public appearance in Mecca, Mu˙ammad acquired a heightened awareness of his mission by means of meditation, a more exact knowledge of the great scriptural religions and the experience of conflict with the unbelief and attacks of the pagan Meccans. He became aware of his position in God’s plan of salvation, he referred to the revealed religions and enunciated a monotheistic faith in God. In the conviction that his God was identical with that of the Jews and Christians he proclaimed the ‘Arabic Koran’, the ‘Clear Book’ of his Revelation, to rival the revealed books of other ‘People of the Book’ (ahl al-kitÅb). At the same time in his preaching he drew on the religious traditions of his own environment (in the broadest sense); on the Biblical stories of Noah, Islam: religion and legal system 27 Abraham, Joseph and Moses, the story of the birth and childhood of Jesus; on post-Biblical – Rabbinical and Christian – material (such as the story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and motifs from the Alexander Romance), religious concepts (the Spirit and Word of God, angels and devils), and indeed popular folk wisdom of Arabia (attributed to the wise man, LuqmÅn). The literate Meccans accused him of plagiarism: Those who disbelieve say: This is nought but a lie that he hath invented, and other folk have helped him with it … And they say: fables of the men of old which he hath had written down so that they are dictated to him morn and evening. Say (unto them, O Mu˙ammad): He who knoweth the secret of the heavens and the earth hath revealed it. Lo! He ever is forgiving, merciful. (Sura 25, verses 4–6) This Koran, given in ‘clear Arabic speech’ (sura 16, verse 105 – and elsewhere) can only – according to Mu˙ammad – be the work of divine mercy. The conflict with the Quraysh intensified. It developed into social and economic reprisals against Mu˙ammad’s clan, the BanË HÅshim. Recourse to sacred history now acquired a new dimension: Biblical figures as well as ancient Arabian prophets appear as warners in exemplary legends in which unbelief and wickedness receive dreadful punishment. At the same time the conflict led to a theological struggle with polytheism. The concept of AllÅh, the Almighty Divine Creator, did not at first preclude the existence of other deities. Only now did the Prophet turn decisively and harshly against the cult of the (female) deities of Mecca and formulate the creed of the one God who has no partner (sharÈk), who allows no intercessor. Finally, indifference and rejection on the part of the Meccans led to the conclusion that it was God Himself who shut their eyes and hearts to the signs of His creation and the wonder of His revelation: ‘He sendeth whom He will astray and guideth whom He will’ (sura 16, verse 93). The activities of Mu˙ammad in Medina put other themes in the forefront of the revelation. But always the glory and the inaccessible greatness of God remain the fundamental experience of his religion, which includes both strict legal prescriptions and the mystical search for God. God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. God guideth unto His light whom He will. (Sura 24, verse 35) ‘At all times will this simile of the Lord and the mysterious aloofness of his splendour penetrate to the innermost heart’ (G. von Grunebaum [14.22], p. 88). But ‘even as persuasive is the portrayal in the famed “Verse of the Throne” of the Lord in His cool and immovable grandeur’ (ibid., p. 89): 28 Islam: an historical introduction God! There is no God save Him, the alive, the eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save with His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge, save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the sublime, the tremendous. (Sura 2, verse 255) The ‘emigration’ of Mu˙ammad from Mecca to Medina, the Hijra, of the year 622, was no flight; the Muslims left the tribal alliance of the Quraysh and were adopted by the Aws and Khazraj into theirs. Compulsion and favourable circumstances worked together so that from the ‘Emigrants’ (muhÅjirËn) and ‘Helpers’ (anßÅr, the believers in Medina) the core of the Islamic state could grow. Mu˙ammad showed his political genius for the first time in the pacification of the oasis which had been torn apart by blood feuds. Thereafter he showed the same genius as a military leader in the long conflicts against the economic power of Mecca, which he provoked in calculated fashion, in his successes and failures, and finally in the masterly, cleverly restrained diplomacy which led a good seven years after the Hijra to the bloodless conquest of Mecca. The Koran also bears witness to these events, to people’s inner response to political happenings, and to the ways in which human destinies are shown to be part of God’s design. Thus, after the battle of Badr, the Prophet is given encouragement: And remember when thou settest forth at daybreak from thy house-folk to assign to the believers their positions for the battle, God was Hearer, Knower. When two parties of you almost fell away, and God was their protecting friend. In God do believers put their trust. God had already given you the victory at Badr when ye were contemptible. So observe your duty to God in order that ye may be thankful. (Sura 3, verses 121–3) whereas the defeat at U˙ud is to serve as a test for the believers: And was it so, when a disaster smote you, though he had smitten (them with a disaster) twice (as great), that ye said, how is this? Say (unto them, O Mu˙ammad): It is from yourselves. Lo! God is able to do all things. That which befell you, on the day when the two armies met, was by permission of God that He might know the true believers and that He might know the hypocrites. (Sura 3, verses 165–7) In Medina the religious institutions of Islam took on the form which – in their broad essentials – they have preserved until today. Mu˙ammad’s relationship with the Jews of Medina was to prove a major development of Islamic ritual. He came to Medina with the conviction that the revelation which he had experienced was identical with earlier ones which had come to the Jews and the Christians; he therefore expected that the Jewish tribes would accept him as the messenger of God. This expectation was disappointed. Before the final break, however, there was an attempt at reconciliation through adaptation: in addition to the morning and evening prayer which had already been established Islam: religion and legal system 29 in Mecca, he added a mid-day prayer, and communal Friday worship may well have been instituted as a borrowing from the Sabbath. There then came the order to turn towards Jerusalem at the time of prayer, and the fast of the Jewish Day of Atonement was also made binding on Muslims (the ‘åshËrÅ’ fast). Their refusal to follow Mu˙ammad – which may well have been for political as well as religious reasons – led not only to the banishment and destruction of the Jews of Medina (and later those of Khaybar). It also led to a new direction in the Koranic interpretation of history. Already in the earlier suras Abraham appeared as the representative of the true religion and the ancestor of the Meccans. Mu˙ammad now came to the conclusion that the Jews must have moved away from the religion of Abraham (millat IbrÅhÈm) and that they had broken their link with God. Abraham now became the most important predecessor of the Arab prophet; with his son Ishmael he built the KaÆba in Mecca as the shrine of God and the centre of the pilgrimage. Islam, which was founded before Moses and Jesus, before Judaism and Christianity, took precedence over the religions of other ‘possessors of scriptures’ who had distorted the revelation. Thus the Ka’ba regained its original significance as the goal of the Islamic pilgrimage. The direction of prayer (qibla) was now also turned towards Mecca, and the number of prayers was later increased to five. It was laid down that there should be fasting during the daytime for the duration of the month of Rama∂Ån. Whether we recognise Mu˙ammad as the Prophet of God, or whether we regard the Koran as the expression of his personality, the creation of the Islamic state and the unification of Arabia under Islam are his handiwork. The first important sign of this achievement is a document handed down by historians in an apparently authentic form – the regulations or ‘Constitution’ of the community of Medina. This document, promulgated soon after the Hijra, regulated the relationship of the tribes, the Meccan ‘Emigrants’ and the Medinan ‘Helpers’ and bound them together in a new larger community which was not based on blood relationships but on religion. From now onwards, there stood above the tribes the umma, the community of believers under the authority and protection of God and under the leadership of Mu˙ammad. The last years of the Prophet were devoted to the propagation of Islam externally and the legal organisation of the umma internally. It had as its central point the mosque (masjid: ‘place of prostration’ before God): the place of communal prayer and at the same time the centre of the community. Solidarity among the believers gave stability to the community. Obligatory and voluntary alms (the zakÅt which was levied as tax and the ßadaqa which was an act of piety) established a sure financial basis for the community. Communal ‘striving in the path of God’ (jihÅd), namely the war against unbelievers, served to defend and extend the realm of Islam. Personal safety within Muslim society remained based on the principle of 30 Islam: an historical introduction blood vengeance; but the reforms incorporated in the Koran replaced the sanction of tribal honour by divine command and by the judgement of the Prophet. The principle of apportioning redress and the prohibition of exacting further penalty from the avenger prevented the internecine blood feuds of the past, while the recommendation to accept blood money instead of blood vengeance paved the way for more humane behaviour. The evidence of witnesses was made the basis of contractual law and litigation. The social system used the individualistic tendencies earlier responsible for the break-up of the old order to build up a new system of marriage, family and inheritance; this system treated the woman as an individual too and guaranteed social security to her as well as to her children. Legally controlled polygamy was an important advance on the various loosely defined arrangements which had previously been both possible and current; it was only by this provision (backed up by severe punishment for adultery), that the family, the core of any sedentary society could be placed on a firm footing. The large interrelated groups of Bedouin tribes and clans played an important part in the Islamic community for a long time to come. But just as the religion of Islam is the adoration of God by the individual, so too do the social system and the ethics of Islam regulate the corporate life of individuals; each individual is made responsible for his actions. Man’s life is not confined within the compass of society in this world but it is given significance by the promise of eternal bliss for all those who by following God’s commands deserve such a reward. The state can therefore be no more than a means to this end; it is a religious institution which has the obligation of taking under its protection the worship of God, the maintenance of the law and the propagation of the faith. Obscured by veneration and hatred, the picture of Mu˙ammad in history is not easy to discern. The example and precepts of the Prophet became overlaid in Muslim tradition by legend; they were falsified for pious and impious reasons and misused in the struggle for succession and supreme power in the Islamic state. Thus the commentaries on the Koran and the biographies of the Prophet often tell us more about the commentators and transmitters than they do about the original meaning and circumstances of their subject matter. On the other hand, European criticism has all too often imposed concepts and criteria on the personality of Mu˙ammad which are not appropriate to his time and his milieu. For too long Mu˙ammad, the Prophet, has been contrasted with Mu˙ammad, the politician, as if they were two different people; yet there is no separation between religious and political activity either in the ancient East or throughout Islamic history. At the same time as Mu˙ammad brought to the people of his time and environment a new religion and a new system of communal living, he created the base on which Islam was able to grow into a world religion and the foundation of a world empire. Islam: religion and legal system 31 2. The development of religious doctrine (a) Islamic history and the history of Islam The Koran is the fundamental document of Islam and, since its codification, the unchangeable basis of Islamic faith and life. To the community of the believers it gave – and still gives today – the basis of communal faith and communal action. It contains the basic duties of the Muslim, namely those fundamentals of communal life which tradition designates as the ‘pillars of Islam’: prayer, or rather, adoration, the worship of God, which is incumbent on every believer at set times; fasting in the month of Rama∂Ån – a communal experience, which determines for one month every year the private and public life of the Islamic world; the pilgrimage to Mecca which, even in the age of the aeroplane, is not possible for every Muslim, but which is the fulfilment of a lifetime for many believers who follow the example of their Prophet in all the details of the ritual; the duty to give alms which also in the form of taxation levied by the state preserves an awareness of social responsibility; and finally, the confession of faith ‘There is no God but God, and Mu˙ammad is His Prophet’, and the recitation of the Revealed texts in general which unite all Muslims in communal worship of God, whatever their particular religious persuasion. The doctrine of salvation in Islam is the doctrine of men being ‘rightly guided by God’ to temporal and eternal bliss through God’s commands. But God’s command was not immediately recognisable in every individual case. Here, problems began to manifest themselves early on and conflicts became apparent. In a world of stormy and continuing change the Revealed Book constantly needed to be interpreted anew and, moreover, to be supplemented through experience and transmission. The spread of Islam, political conflicts, social and economic changes – all these gave the impetus; the older religious communities, forms of government and civilisation which the Arabs encountered in the formation of their empire contributed foundation stones, models and methods. With the evolution of political and religious institutions, there developed the various branches of religious and legal doctrine in which the knowledge (Æilm) given in the Koran was explained and systematised: • its pronouncements on the duties towards God in jurisprudence (fiqh), the doctrine of Revealed law (sharÈÆa, the ‘clear defined way’); • its pronouncements on the essence and activity of God in theology (kalÅm, polemic and apologetic ‘dialectic’) and dogmatics (ußËl al-dÈn ‘the principles of faith’); • its pronouncements on the reality of faith, on the personal relationship of man with God, in mysticism (taßawwuf); • its pronouncements on the life of the Prophet and the first community in 32 Islam: an historical introduction historical tradition (sÈra, i.e. sÈrat al-nabÈ ‘the normative or model way of life of the Prophet’); • the text itself in the study of philology (grammar and lexicography) and in extensive Koranic commentaries (tafsÈr, ‘interpretation’). Islamic doctrine developed out of conflict between the interpreters of the scripture and the forces of change in the community. The very destiny of society and state was experienced and perceived through the prism of conflicts about the interpretation and application of the Revealed Koran, of the ‘way’ based on the Revelation, model and conduct of the Prophet, the sharÈÆa of the religious community. From the beginning until the present day, movements and conflicts which are presented as religious in the mirror of the sources – and that means in the minds of the actors themselves – have profoundly affected and indeed shaken state and society. The expansion of Islam and its formation into a state are only the first and most striking examples of this. At the death of Mu˙ammad (632) the Arabian peninsula was Islamic; under the four caliphs of the first generation who had belonged to his Companions, Arab armies subjugated the Sasanian empire from Iraq as far as eastern Iran and the Byzantine provinces of the Near East. Under the rulers of the Umayyad dynasty they reached as far as the Atlantic and the Indus (711) – in the name of God and of His message ...
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As depicted by the author, the Islamic religion can be traced back to 610 AD when
Muhammad, the merchant of Mecca was convinced with a message of goodness and one
omnipotence God in the light of the morning. The message was in Arabic which became the
official Islamic language. He was conve...

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