Islamic civilization: An Overview
The Islamic civilization is human in terms of tendency and universal in terms of prospects and extensions
Post by on Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Every civilization has its unique characteristics, which it represents. As the ancient Greek civilization was characterized by glorifying the mind, the Roman civilization was characterized by glorifying power and influence, the Persian civilization was characterized by interest in body desires, military power and political domination, the Indian civilization was characterized by being proud of spiritual power, the Islamic civilization had its unique characteristics that are different from those of former and subsequent civilizations. The Islamic civilization was based on a divine message, namely the message of Islam, which is characterized by humanity, universality and belief in monotheism.
The Islamic civilization is characterized by its wide horizon and universal message. This is clarified in the Noble Qur'an when it declared the unity of the mankind, despite the diversity of races, origins and places. Allah (SWT) says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (Al-Hujurat: 13). The Holy Qur'an made the Islamic civilization like a necklace organized by the geniuses of all peoples and nations, above which the banner of the Islamic conquests hovered.
The Islamic civilization is human in terms of tendency and universal in terms of prospects and extensions. It is not linked to a geographical territory, a human race, or a historical phase, but it contains all nations and peoples. Its implications are directed for various spots and places. It is a shade for all human beings, and everyone who gets its giving enjoys its warmth. This is because it was based on the fact that man is the most important and the most honored creature; everything in the universe is geared to him; all human activities must lead to his happiness “and prosperity; and that every action intended to achieve this end is a human work in the first place.
The quality of universality consolidates and establishes the values of right, goodness, justice and equality among all people, regardless of their colors or races. It does not believe in the theory of racial superiority or arrogance. So, the Prophet's (SAW) message was mercy to all creatures. Addressing His Messenger, Allah (SWT) says: “We sent thee not but as a mercy for all creatures”. (Prophets: 107), and He (SWT) says in another verse: “We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to people.” (Saba: 28). So, the message of Islamic civilization was universal, where every race, color and language participates in achieving it.The Prophet's (SAW) sayings and stances complied with that Qur'anic theory. Jabir ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari (RA) narrated: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "I have been given five things which were not given to any one else before me. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind…” (Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) traditions and deeds applied the principle of universality of the message. See what he (SAW) said to his people: "An apostle does not lie to his people. By Allah, if I lie to all people, I never lie to you, and if I deceive people, I never deceive you. By Allah, the only one God, I'm the messenger of Allah to you in particular and to all people in general…" (Ibn Al-Athir: Al-Kamil fi Al-Tarikh 1/585). He (peace be upon him) declared the principle of universality since the first day of his call.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also sent his messengers to Caesar of Romans; Khosrau of Persians; Al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Egyptian Copts; and the king of Habashah (Ethiopia). This is Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) letter to Khosrau: "In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, the most merciful. (This letter is) from Muhammad the messenger of Allah to Khosrau the ruler of Persia. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path and witnesses that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the slave and prophet of Allah. Furthermore, I invite you to the call of Allah for I am the Allah's messenger to all mankind to warn whomever is living and that the saying may come true against the disbelievers. If you become a Muslim you will be safe and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Persians." (Al-Tabari). This is the first characteristic of Islamic civilization. It is a unique characteristic that does not exist in other civilizations. So, the Islamic civilization has truly become a noble and universal civilization.
One of the most prominent ethical characters of the Islamic civilization is its humanity. Man is the cornerstone and pillar of the Islamic civilization, which is keen to preserve the dignity and interests of humans, on the ground that they are entitled to reconstruct the world and make civilization. The noble Qur'an has assurances emphasizing human dignity and preference. Allah (SWT) says: “We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation.” (Al-Isra': 70)
Allah (SWT) has granted dignity for all human beings alike. The human essence has been one since Allah (SWT) created it. The difference between human beings does not change their essence, as all people were created from one origin. Allah (SWT) has distinguished man from among other creatures with that dignity. This dignity has different dimensions. It is a divine protection of man, involving respect for his mind, freedom and will, and also involving his right to security of himself, his wealth and descendants.
With these characteristics, the Islamic civilization has unique features. It is universal and based on absolute oneness of Allah, the Lord of the worlds. It is characterized by balance and moderation. It is also characterized by ethical characters. Therefore, it is not a national or racist culture, nor is it against human nature. These unique characteristics of Islamic civilization stem the quality of permanence and continuity from the principles of the Islamic religion. Thus, these characteristics are like precious stones, which do not change even if circumstances changed or developed.
(Excerpt From: Dr. Ragheb Elsergany. “Islamic Civilization”)