The History of Islam – Part 2
We call Islam a religion, but historically we see it is more of a political-military movement. We see this when we study the caliphates (empires) of Islam.
Before we get into the next period, I want to go back to Muhammad’s migration to Medina. Not only did the character of Islam change at that time, there was also a change of the calendar. The Islamic calendar is not the same as ours. We are in 2016, but on the Muslim calendar it is 1438. Their calendar begins in our year 622. Our calendar uses the abbreviation AD to indicate Ano Domini, the year of our Lord. The Muslim calendar uses AH for Ano Hijra (migration), the year of the migration.
Today we are 578 years apart, but since our calendar is based on the solar year, and the Muslim calendar is based on the lunar year, the gap is closing. The lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year. The calendars will agree in the year 2860.
We are not talking about religious history, we are talking about a history of conquest. We are not talking about religious leaders, we are talking about rulers and kingdoms. It is important that we understand that Muhammad was not just building a religion, he was building an empire.
The Umaayyad Caliphate (Damascus, Syria) 661 – 750 (41AH)
During this period they move the headquarters of Islam from Arabia to Damascus in Syria. Remember, before Islam conquered Syria, it was the largest Christian nation on earth. Today Syria is only about 10% Christian.
Islam expanded by conquest, and they were conquering non-Arabs. They moved into Persia (Iran), India, and North Africa.
The founder of the Umaayyad Caliphate was Abu Sufyan from Mecca. One of the desires of this caliphate was to restore a true Arabic culture within Islam. I think this is one of the hidden differences between the Sunni Muslims and th Shi’ite Muslims. I think there is a lesser than attitude that makes Arab Muslims more pure, and all other Muslims lesser.
This caliphate ran from 661 to about 750, but I believe the death blow came in 732. We will talk about this later.
When they established Damascus as the headquarters of the Islamic government, they made Arabic the official language of the government, and all the coinage. Again, we are not talking about a religion, we’re talking about a government with its own money. The goal of this caliphate is to bring some unity by bringing it back to an Arabic Islam.
They had expanded all the way across Northern Africa. They then turned to Europe. They invaded and conquered Spain. From Spain they started to expand into France. Thank God for a leader named Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer). In 732, Martel stopped the advance of the Islamic armies. This was the beginning of driving them out of Europe. This is why I believe that the Battle of Poitiers, also called the battle of Tours, in 732 was the beginning of the end of this caliphate.
Within 100 years after Muhammad, Islam had expanded all the way into France. This never would have happened with only conversions to Islam. It only happened because of the military-governmental sword behind the expansion. All of those who are talking about the peaceful history of Islam are not looking at its true history. Islam’s history is one of bloodshed and war, leaving a wake of dead bodies in its path.
During this time we also see the versions of the Qur’an developed. They claim that they go back to the time of Muhammad, but the evidence shows that they are really of more recent origin.
The Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad, Iraq) 750 – 1517
This caliphate moved the headquarters from Damascus to Baghdad in modern day Iraq. There was also a language change. Prior to this caliphate, Arabic was the language of the government. This seems to be lost from this point forward. The language of the government became Turkish, and this continued until the end of the Ottoman empire. Arabic has always be the language of the religion, but not always the language of the caliphate.
Under the previous caliphate they lost ground in Europe. This caliphate expanded toward the east into Iraq. It seems that this caliphate was trying to undo some of the second class status of non-Arabic Muslims.
This caliphate lasted much longer than those before it. It goes from 758 until mid 12th century. Many refer to this as the golden period of Islam. They were supposedly coexisting with Christians and Jews. We are told that it would be great if we could go back to that time. We need to remember that at this time the Christians and Jews were living as second class citizens.
In both of the last two caliphates it seems like they wanted to convert people to Islam, but it was almost like, don’t talk about it too much because, if too many are converted, they will not be paying the jizya tax. If they truly believed in the religious part of Islam, their focus would have been on conversions. Instead, they were focused on expansion of the kingdom.
There was a short break in this caliphate in 1258. It picked up again in 1261 and continued until 1517. This is the period of the Crusades. Every time the European armies went to war with the Muslims, it was to take back ground that had been taken from them by the Muslims. We also had the beginning of the Ottoman empire, and some of the Crusades were against the Turks.