Today, the whole Muslim world is in Jeopardy. Our political, social and economic structures are constantly deteriorating.
According to Pew survey in 2015, there are almost 1.8 billion Muslims all over the globe. Yet, we are divided on sectarian grounds and fighting with each other. As Iqbal, the great poet, writes:
yuuñ to sayyad bhī ho mirzā bhī ho afġhān bhī ho
tum sabhī kuchh ho batāo musalmān bhī ho
Though we see things gloomy for now, but we had a glorious past. Muslims reigned the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to 1492, ruled for almost eight centuries. It was the time when Europe was in dark ages and Al- Andulas was flourishing socially and economically. It can be argued that Islamic golden era provided foundations for western development years later.
Muslims were continuously advancing in science, arts and commerce. A glorious period of enlightenment, diversity and peace. It was depicted in everyday lives of people at that time. This period is also referred as “Islamic Golden Age:” A true depiction of inclusivity and inter-faith harmony, which is also remembered as “Convivencia” in Spanish language- which simply means co-existence of all religions.
Around 10th century, Cordoba emerged as the leading city in the entire world with spectacular advancements in science and arts. From the birth of Ghazal in the 7th century to crafting the basic principles of Algebra, there were numerous inventions by renowned Muslim scholars of that time. Interestingly, most of the inventors specialized in various fields instead of just one. The mosque of Cordoba depicts symbol of glory and it shows the power of Umayyad dynasty. The mosque held importance for many reasons. It was considered as the large praying space as well as university for Muslims intellectuals, in stark contrast with today’s time where we have just cornered religion to certain rituals.
The Iberian Peninsula also gave birth to some eminent Islamic scholars of Muslim history including the likes of Ibn’ Arabi and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Ibn’ Arabi taught values of spirituality, humanity and his teachings are universal – that each human being transcends towards the truth taking a unique path. His work has influenced not only the Muslim world but beyond that. On the other hand, Ibn Rush integrated Islamic thoughts with ancient Greek philosophy. He summarised Aristotle’s and Plato’s work and exerted considerable influence on both Islamic as well as Europe for centuries.
The gardens of Alhambra located in southern Spain’s Granada region provide a majestic view of heavenly place on earth; Muslims longing for Paradise. It was inspired by the Quranic verses of rivers flowing and beautiful gardens. One can just get awe-inspired when puts an eye on the sight. In 1984, Alhambra was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The history of Al-Andulas teaches us about peaceful coexistence and tolerance. It also navigates us to the great history of Islam where Muslims excelled in all fields of life. So, if we ponder upon their lives and see what they did differently, it may provide us a direction and value system. Instead of just glamourizing our past and praising Muslim victories and rule, it is about time to follow the footsteps of the great leaders and scholars. Not just taking Islam as religion of rituals but applying true principles and gain more knowledge.
The question arises as what factors contributed to the immense success of Muslims at that point in time? Whether it was just following the rituals of Islam, military might or generating new body of knowledge in most of the fields; or was it a good mixture of all of them? The conclusion rests upon us.